Touch Radio in Banbury and Coventry are to close if no buyer can be found for the two stations. A deal is sought by owner CN Group by the end of the year. The news was announced in a memo sent to staff at the two Touch stations on Monday.
Julie Fair, radio group MD, confirmed to RadioToday.co.uk both Coventry and Banbury were for sale stating that they sadly did not fit in the long term strategy of the CN Group's Radio Division. She added that the Group were really hopeful buyers would be found for the stations but added if this was not the case they would close and the relevant licences returned to Ofcom.
Since the announcement, Lincs FM, Bauer and Global Radio have been mooted as possible buyers in Coventry, while Absolute Radio has been linked with the Banbury station as an extension of its JACK fm licence in south Oxfordshire.
However, Absolute's Chief Operating Officer Clive Dickens told RadioToday.co.uk that the company are not interested in the licence as it is "too small a TSA to be viable."
Lincs FM Group recently bought Loughborough's Oak FM from CN Group and subsequently used the name for their Fosseway Radio station in Hinckley.
107.6 Touch Radio in Banbury [link=http://radiotoday.co.uk/news.php?extend.554]launched[/link] at 10am on February 25th 2006 after [link=http://radiotoday.co.uk/news.php?extend.204]winning[/link] the licence in 2005. The station originally planned to launch as The Bear, after fighting off competition from Banbury Local Radio and Banbury FM.
The Coventry frequency has more heritage, having originally launched almost 20 years ago as Radio Harmony in 1990. In 1995, after a frequency change, youth station Kix 96 was born under the management of Midlands radio stalwart Muff Murfin. CN Group later bought the station, took its music policy towards AC and re-branded it to form part of the enlarged Touch Radio network in the Midlands.
The change from Kix to Touch attracted a [link=http://radiotoday.co.uk/news.php?extend.692]Yellow Card[/link] from Ofcom for a format violation in April 2006, not long after the regulator [link=http://radiotoday.co.uk/news.php?extend.285]rejected[/link] a format change for Kix 96 to drop specialist programming, including five hours per week of Irish music.
CN Group are asking for potential buyers to put in an offer in the next five weeks, after which each licence will be handed back to Ofcom. CN's other Touch Radio outlets in Stratford and Warwick, along with The Bay, CityBeat and other non-Touch stations are unaffected.