Nova listeners say ‘yes’ to new licences | radioinfo

Nova listeners say ‘yes’ to new licences

Thursday 15 May, 2003

DMG has used the results of the latest Nielsen ratings to push its case for the speedy allocation of the next round of scheduled capital city FM licences.

The ABA recently asked for submissions on whether the next licence round should be delayed.

Incumbents ARN and Austereo are arguing that the licence round should be delayed because of tightening market conditions, while DMG is arguing that it should not be delayed because new stations will give listeners more choice.

DMG’s CEO Paul Thompson says: “The under 40 radio listeners of Australia have emphatically challenged calls by conservative incumbent broadcasters for the Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA) to delay new FM licences.”

“Nova 969 Sydney, Nova 100 Melbourne and Nova 937 Perth have all surged to No. 1 with all listeners under 40 in the Nielsen Research Survey 3 results out today.”

The DMG Radio owned Novas are all new, having been on the air between 5 months (Perth) and 2 years (Sydney) and “their impact on the listening patterns of under 40s in Australia is unprecedented,” according to Thompson.

The licences were acquired at auction through the ABA planning process, “which networks such as Austereo and ARN are trying to shut down.” One of the arguments used by the established networks is that Nova programming has offered ‘more of the same.’

Paul Thompson, says the audience “clearly rejects this attempted protectionism.”

“Dynamic audience movement of this magnitude could never occur unless listeners were massively motivated by the uniqueness of Nova programming. The under 40 population in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth clearly rejects the argument that the new licence plan should be shut down to protect the profits of traditional operators.

Brisbane and Adelaide listeners have not yet had the Nova experience. They should not be deprived of the choices available in the other cities. And Sydney and Melbourne audiences have shown how enthusiastically they are prepared to embrace new stations which sound different.”

The ARN submission to the ABA opposes Thompson's view, saying market conditions have deteriorated since 1999 when the ABA decided to originally issue the new licences. The submission says:

"To proceed with issuing licences now, merely to abide by a timetable set at the top of the business cycle would be reckless... Research undertaken by Austereo and APN in February 2003 showed a clear overlap in music programming... it appears the only increase in diversity is where listeners can hear a particular song being played, rather than in the variety of music."

The ABA will have to decide between the two viewpoints and make a decision on whether the issue of licences should be delayed or not. The decision is about delay of the licences, not cancellation, which is not possible under ABA rules now that they are already in the Licence Area Plans.

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