What is multiplex management? Nothing to do with cinemas as it happens.
How much managing does a multiplex need? You win the multiplex licence; job done, surely? Sadly not.
Aside from launching the multiplex – that is getting the transmitters live and the radio stations plugged in, the vast majority of a multiplex owner’s time is taken up with the day to day running.
A common analogy is that managing a multiplex is like being the landlord of a house with many rooms.
Once the house is built and the tenants installed with all the contracts signed people can get on with living in the house and the landlord can go and stick his feet up can’t he?
Actually let’s not rush this step; setting up all those tenancy agreements and direct debits can take a fair amount of time. And every month the rent will be due and if it isn’t received it needs to be chased. Similarly, this is a very basic part of managing a mutiplex – ensuring that the services are billed the correct amounts and that payments are received.
So assuming that is all in order, aside from a little accounts admin each month it’s a piece of cake being a landlord isn’t it?
But then the phone rings. A tenant may have just got married and want to change the name on their lease. Are they allowed to have a dog in the flat? Maybe the neighbours are noisy – can the landlord help draft a letter to them? All sorts of little enquiries are likely.
If the landlord has lots of houses it might be that the phone never stops ringing. He has a duty to his tenants to respond to these queries properly, and to resolve the issues as quickly as possible. Managing multiplexes involves all sorts of daily queries; can the scrolling message be amended? The station might have changed its name after a rebrand. Maybe a listener has reported interference and it might not be clear why this is.
Some changes are bigger. In our house example, a tenant might want to move out; it might be before their lease ends and so there may be some discussions about what happens. In the same way, sometimes a service provider may wish to leave the multiplex and so there will be negotiations about how soon they can leave, and what final payments need to be made. There will also be the removal of the DAB codecs which needs to be booked and paid for; just like you’d book a removal van – except the van is smaller. It will be necessary to find a new tenant and advertising may need to be arranged.
On the flip side of the coin there can be surplus demand to manage. If our fictional landlord runs a house in an up and coming area he may find that there are lots of enquiries about whether he has any rooms to rent. It will be up to him how he responds; does he just keep their details on file or does he see if there are any alternative houses that the enquirers might like instead? Similarly some of our multiplexes attract a great deal of interest and so managing that interest is daily business. It is a very gratifying aspect to be sure, but of course often things aren’t quite as pleasant.
Lots of people have had the misery of the central heating breaking down just when temperatures hit zero. Things do go wrong and often it isn’t during office hours. With a multiplex there are many links in the chain between the radio station and the listener and faults can happen any time of the day or night. Tractors can dig through the cable carrying the station from its site to the multiplex centre. Computers can crash. Fireworks can be shot into transmitters and raze them to the ground. Fortunately these sorts of things are pretty rare but they do happen. Keeping the radio stations in the loop about what has happened and how soon things will be fixed is a very important part of managing multiplexes.
There are many other aspects to managing multiplexes; as an example we keep a close eye on regulation to ensure our digital real estate gets a fair deal in whatever agreements are being drafted; even international discussions can have a serious impact on our “tenant’s” businesses. Communicating these changes is vital, as well as being an advocate for their interests, which by association will be ours.
If you’re interested in finding out more about our multiplex and digital radio management, contact Nicky our Head of Operations.