RADIO Jamaica Limited, the parent company of the RJRGLEANER Communications Group, said Tuesday that its CEO Gary Allen will be stepping down from that role at the end of this year. Allen, who served for 15 years in the role, is to be replaced by Anthony Smith, who currently holds the position of deputy CEO for print and digital services in the media group.
A release from the company on the Jamaica Stock Exchange said it is “driven by the strategic imperative to strengthen our leadership position in the local and diaspora markets and to support the digital-first transformation programme as outlined at the most recent AGM [annual general meeting]”. It also indicated that the change will tap Smith’s technology background to lead the transition of the media giant.
“The agreed strategy is designed to take advantage of the changing media landscape, which has seen technology convergence; impact of Al technologies; new media; on-demand access; and digital switch over (DSO) to achieve sustained future growth. As the new CEO of the RJRGLEANER Group, Mr Smith will be responsible for spearheading the strategy and execution of the new operating model for the group. All departments and revenue channels will fall within his responsibility,” the release outlined.
Efforts to reach the entity’s Chairman Joseph Matalon proved futile. Calls to his cellphone went unanswered.
However, the stock exchange release said Allen will not demit the group when he steps down as CEO on December 31, but will instead take up the newly created position of group senior executive for corporate and external affairs. In that role, Allen is expected to work closely with Matalon and his successor Smith, and will “lead the regulatory and policymaking interface of the group, especially relating to digital switch over (DSO)”. He will also remain on the boards of the overseas subsidiaries in Canada, the UK, and the US as well as being on the editorial board and the print and broadcast subsidiaries. The release was, however, silent on Allen’s status on the board of the parent company, Radio Jamaica Limited. It, however, said he will chair the RJRGLEANER Sports Foundation, which oversees the National Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year Awards.
The changes will also affect Christopher Barnes, the group’s chief strategy officer (CSO) who resigned from the board of the parent company on Tuesday and will resign from the company on December 31, the same day Allen will step down. Unlike Allen, Barnes was not offered a new post in the RJRGLEANER Communications Group, but will be engaged as a consultant and will remain on the boards of the print and broadcast subsidiaries.
As for Smith, as of November 1, he will be appointed to the board of Radio Jamaica Limited and take over as managing director and an executive director on January 1, in keeping with the company’s articles of incorporation.
Smith was appointed group deputy CEO and general manager of the Gleaner Media Company Limited on October 1, 2022. He is a seasoned business and technology executive, who successfully led diverse teams and transformational programmes throughout his career. Amongst his achievements, as CEO of Massy Technologies Jamaica and group chief operating officer for Massy Technologies Group (Massy Technologies Trinidad Limited), Smith was successful in growing the company’s profits before tax each year, for the five years of his tenure. He has also served on several boards, including that of the Massy companies he led.
He will be taking over at Radio Jamaica, the region’s biggest media conglomerate while it is undergoing a “slow transition to digital terrestrial television”, which has been eating into the company’s finances.
Its most recent financials show revenues reached $1.3 billion in the three months between April and June, the same level it was a year ago. Its bottom line showed losses of $38 million in that period, virtually unchanged from a year ago, and perhaps showing the company standing still as the marketplace gets more competitive.
Its biggest rival in the TV landscape, CVM TV, is making fresh noises in the market as it seeks to revive and present a challenge to Television Jamaica with new programmes, including a revamped morning show.