Former Foxtel and News Corp boss, Kim Williams, has told B&T that Australia’s three free-to-air stations face significant challenges if they don’t change their business models.
In a wide ranging interview he recently gave to B&T Williams suggested that it could well be the bosses’ and boards’ reluctance to change that would be their undoing.
“I think on their current models they will have challenges,” Williams said of Seven, Nine and Ten’s futures. “I think there are some very capable executives heading up several of them; well, at least in two of those companies who know what they are doing, and they have a very clear eye on the way to connect with consumers.”
On Foxtel’s recent acquisition of a large swathe of Channel Ten, Williams said he was unsure of the motives behind and it and its potential for success. “I’d have no idea. I’m not part of that conversation,” he admitted.
He also debunked the idea that the Foxtel/Ten merger was, as some wags have put it, two of Australia’s worst performing media companies jumping into bed with one another.
“(Laughs loudly) I don’t see how Foxtel is one of the worst media companies in Australia! It makes more money than all of the other media companies combined. How that is a media company that is somehow evidencing major trouble defeats me,” he argued.
Sport, Williams agreed, was the one area that the free-to-air stations had to fight hard to get the rights to and offer it in a compelling package to audiences.
“Central to a lot of that connection to consumers will be sport. Central will be unique drama programming and central will be things that inform the conduct of your life and enable you to make decisions about your life in ways that enhance your personal prosepcts or the prospects of your immediate circle; your friends or your families or whatever.
“I think several media companies are very clear on that and others are clearly quite disconnected from what’s happening,” he said.
Following on from Friday’s changes at the top at Williams’ former employer News Corp, he tells B&T there was no acrimony when he resigned from the CEO’s position in August 2013.
“No, there was no acrimony. I’ve never expressed any acrimony nor has anyone else who was directly involved,” he said of he departure after 20 months in the job that was reportedly plagued by disharmony between him and some of News’ senior print editors.
“I tried to bring about a lot of change and change is often met invariably by those who are in favour of it and those who oppose it and in this moment those who were opposed it were triumphant. But they will lose,” he said.