The man in charge of the biggest commercial radio group in the UK is stepping down. GCap Media chief executive Ralph Bernard will stay with the group in an alternative role, and remain in his position until a replacement is found.
The search for a replacement will now begin internally and externally and it is intended that the resignation will take effect on appointment of a new Chief Executive. Bernard will remain with the company as Chairman of Classic FM with responsibility for overseeing the station's licence renewal process and he will continue as Chairman of Digital One.
He is one of the industry's best-known corporate figures, and has spent the last 25 years a an executive, from launching Wiltshire Radio in 1982, then becoming head of GWR from 1987-2001, responsible for the launch of Classic FM and overseeing Digital One.
Ralph Bernard commented: "25 years is a long time to head up a company and having been at the heart of commercial radio's growth over the years, the time is right to step down as Chief Executive. This a pivotal time for the industry, further consolidation is likely, new entrants are coming to the market and a host of opportunities are opening up on other platforms. In addition, both Ofcom and DCMS are looking closely at the future of radio and both have made encouraging statements about future regulation and development. Having taken the Group and the industry to this point, I feel that now is the time for a new Chief Executive to face the new challenges and opportunities ahead."
"I will continue to be involved with the growth of digital radio and look forward to working closely with the industry on our ambition to secure a date for digital switchover. I would like to thank the Board and my colleagues, some of whom have been with me throughout my career, for their commitment, talent and support."
Richard Eyre, Chairman of GCap Media commented: "For 25 years Ralph Bernard has been a colossus in commercial radio. His progress from the original foundation of GWR in 1982 to the creation and leadership of Britain's largest radio group is testament to his whole-hearted commitment to this industry. He has been at the forefront of digital development and industry consolidation and has changed the landscape of commercial radio with his leading role in launching Classic FM."
"Along the way he has created loyalty among colleagues and respect among rivals. All will join me in celebrating an extraordinary contribution to our company and our industry. I am delighted that the company will continue to benefit from Ralph's experience in a number of areas in which he is uniquely qualified."
Ralph was appointed a CBE in 2002.
GCap also released their latest trading update this morning, saying its underlying first-half pretax profit fell slightly to 5.6 million pounds from 5.8 million last year. Like-for-like revenues climbed 4.5 per cent to 100 million pounds, excluding the results of selling two Century stations to GMG Radio in October 2006.
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