Having watched television from the couch rather than the executive office, he has gleaned much which he believes will put him in good stead for his new role.
While the departure from TEN after 16 years was under a cloud, he sees the positives in time out from executive roles.
“Observing from the outside without having to deal with the influences that occur on the inside on decision making (really) made a difference,” he says. “You can see things in a much different light. Now, having had that for the first time, that really helps you as you step back into the business to really understand it’s very different being on the outside, in terms of viewers’ perceptions.
“You think you’re doing a very good job at marketing a programme, but when you think about everything a person has to do in their life, television is potentially a very small part of it, until 6:00 at night when they decide to turn the TV on.”
Mott was reluctant to elaborate on his exit from TEN, preferring to focus on “14 and a half” good years out of 16.
“We had a wonderful, cohesive team that worked for one common goal. There was respect at every level. When I think back to early 2000 through to the launch of MasterChef they were brilliant years and I’m really proud of working with so many fantastic people throughout that period of time,” he says.
“We were all there for a common goal and the direction we were heading and ‘let’s hope we get it right.’ Through those good years we had some ground-breaking decisions at the time, part of a well-experienced, cohesive team. Which is sort of where I see Nine at the moment.
“What thrilled me the most was that most of the industry kept in contact and that was something I will never forget.
“My wife used to say I had more lunches outside the business than when I was in the business.
“I travelled to the Rhine River with my wife and I went to the Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas in January with my 19 year old son and it was terrific to see the latest in smart TVs and HD TVs and all the other bits and pieces.”
Yesterday Mott was confirmed as Managing Director of Nine’s newly-acquired STW9 Perth.
“I’m sort of wearing two hats and that’s what excited me about the role compared to other opportunities -and there have been other opportunities that have come my way since my time with TEN, one with a production company and one with another network,” he says.
“But this one worked to my DNA and what I am used to doing which is broadcast television. The role of managing director and having Nine acquire WIN in Perth was a fantastic opportunity to grow our share of voice, audience and revenue in the Perth market.
“I have enormous respect for David Gyngell, who has kept in close contact over the past twelve months even before the Perth opportunity came along. When we sat down and discussed it, it sort of made a lot of sense for me to take a look at Perth and give it the priority that it deserves.”
But his programming skills won’t be entirely lost to management, with a role as part of nd will join the Nine’s Programming Executive team.
“The other part of the role is still having a voice at the programming table with Andrew Backwell and Michael Healy, who I also have a lot of respect for and who have done a tremendous job,” he explains.
“In some respects it almost goes back to what TEN had all those years ago, a big singing show, a cooking show, constructed Reality, Big Brother, not foreign territory to me.
“They’ve been very inviting and everyone has been terrific making me feel part of the team.
“I credit David Gyngell and Michael Healy with seeing he importance of having experienced voices at the table.
“It begins and ends with content and you can see that in David Gyngell’s eyes. He has a real passion for what he wants the network to achieve.
“That was the tipping point for me, his passion, knowledge, understanding and experience.”
While Nine is buoyed at the notion of having a national network, the path to win share will be long and arduous. Last week Nine had around 20% share while Seven had 40%. Perth has a deep history with the Seven brand, through its Telethon, its strength in News and Current Affairs, AFL and ownership of the West Australian newspaper.
“One of the most exciting jobs to take on is growing the share for Perth. I think it’s fair to say WIN have a certain model as to how they approach their business and it’s probably fair to say the Nine Network under David Gyngell has a very different view to that and clearly there is some work to do,” he concedes.
“I’ve actually been here since early September watching and observing TV, radio, newspapers, online, cafes, restaurants, shopping centres, just to familiarise myself with the local market. My sense is yes STW is underperforming compared to the rest of the Nine stations, particularly when you look at News and A Current Affair on the East Coast. Sure we don’t have the AFL, but having said that look at the success of Melbourne. Channel Nine Melbourne doesn’t have the AFL and yet they’re hugely dominant.
“This is only going to be good for the people of Perth because we are going to invest in people and local programmes, marketing and promotion and that clearly has to be a direct benefit.”
After Nine acquired NWS9 Adelaide, Nine began forging grass-roots ties with the Adelaide community, sponsoring sports and arts events. Does it plan to do the same in Perth?
“We want to seek those opportunities. It’s got to be real and organic,” Mott insists.
“I’ve had conversations with certain parties already and we’ll see where they go. But most certainly there will be those opportunities because we have to. Perth is a very proud, parochial city. It’s potentially a little more cosmopolitan in feel than when I was last here.
“It’s had substantial population growth and affluence and it’s a slightly more sophisticated audience now in terms of lifestyle and entertainment and there’s a great restaurant scene now here.”
Yet Mott was very much the face of corporate TEN, regularly talking to press and demonstrating passion for the “youth” network. Now he is already pushing Nine’s message. Will the audience buy the switch -and how do you work alongside those who were such formidable competitors?
“Having spent some time at Nine in Sydney I’ve got so much respect for how they’re working together. I said to Michael Healy the other day that it did remind me of those great days at TEN when there was respect at all levels. From Vic Buchan in Publicity through to Andrew Backwell, Adrian Swift, Michael Healy –there’s a very clear understanding of what they want to achieve, notwithstanding David Gyngell right up above who’s very respectful of the people beneath him. As he said, he doesn’t view himself as a CEO, he views himself as one of the team which is an admirable attribute,” he says.
“They were opposition but there was respect, and I only want to work with people that I respect.
“We would often meet up at overseas markets and talk about things. Even David Gyngell was the kind of guy that when things weren’t going well at TEN he would call up and say ‘Hey mate, just want to make sure you’re ok?’ That’s extraordinary. As would Michael.
“And I would remember when Michael was going through some tough times we’d get on the phone and meet up and have a chat. So there was certainly an element of respect.
“You want to be as competitive as you can, that’s the nature of the business, but it doesn’t mean you can’t admire and respect the individuals.”
Lastly I’m intrigued by the move not only from Programming to Management (something Tim Worner has successfully executed), but also from Sydney to Perth. How long does Mott see himself in this kind of role?
But he is pragmatic.
“It will be as long as it takes,” he insists.
“I don’t see this as anything short term. It’s not retirement –I can tell you that right now. It’s a by-product in many respects of family in Perth. My knowledge of Perth will obviously come in handy. I know many of the media buyers here, I still know a lot of the local TV writers.
“I want to use that to the best of my abilities.”