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RJR to push for markets offshore

Published:Wednesday | October 12, 2016 | 12:00 AMTameka Gordon

The amalgamated operations of Radio Jamaica Limited and its newest subsidiary The Gleaner Company (Media) Limited will focus on several key areas to generate growth, among them the creation of targeted programmes for the overseas market, says CEO Gary Allen.

At the 68th annual general meeting of the RJR Communications Group, on Wednesday, Allen said the media company plans to grow the print subsidiary through innovation and cross promotion, expand traditional services of its other offerings into new markets and push operational and revenue synergies across the group, among other things.

The 182-year-old Gleaner archives will also be exploited to develop content for dissemination across the platforms operated by the group.

The merger, which was approved by shareholders of both companies last December and sanctioned by the Supreme Court in February, has created the largest media entity in Jamaica, valued at around

$3 billion, and one of the largest in the English-speaking Caribbean, offering services across various platforms, including television, radio, cable, print and online content.

At the end of RJR's fiscal year, March 2016, the company had a net value of $2.4 billion, and market value of $3.5 billion or $1.46 per share. The stock is currently trading at about $1.54.

The new name for the merged operation is being finalised, Allen told the Financial Gleaner after the meeting. RJR group chief operating officer Christopher Barnes says staff will be informed of the new name first before making a public announcement.

"We want the company to come together to have strong Jamaican ownership. We are going to launch out globally with everything Jamaican that is demanded outside of Jamaica," Allen told shareholders during the meeting.

The objective is to push for growth across all platforms and despite prevailing sentiments, "we still think that we can get some growth in print," he said, while pointing to international surveys of growth in the Latin American print media market over the last two years.

"We are not planning on closing shop on print. We are planning on digitising print and making some wonderful programmes," said the RJR CEO.

Production teams will "go back and chronicle, through the eyes of The Gleaner, the journeys of Marcus Garvey ... we are going to tell people of West Africa what happened to Africans who came across the Atlantic and who were here in the last days of slavery, because The Gleaner was there and has it chronicled," he said. "We see those things producing a lot more for us to monetise."

Greater emphasis will also be placed on marketing the content of 1Spot Media, the digital platform, to overseas subscribers.

"We are going to ensure that it is available on all platforms to ensure that it is bringing our content to people wherever they are," said Allen.

1Spot Media now has over 100,000 subscribers, he said. The service remains free to locals but attracts a fee for overseas users.

Radio services will also be expanded to near markets. And digital and high definition television will be marketed to overseas viewers, Allen said.

The merged board of RJR has 14 members: Chairman J.A. Lester Spaulding, Deputy Chairman Oliver Clarke, CEO Gary Allen, COO Christopher Barnes, Lisa Johnston, Glen Francis, Carl Domville, Minna Israel, Dr Carol Archer, Andrew Leo-Rhynie, Douglas Orane, Joseph M. Matalon, Lawrence Nicholson and Elizabeth Jones.