Global Radio’s requested fast-track from the OFT to the CC for an investigation into its takeover of GMG Radio has been granted.
Maria Miller, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport decided earlier today that the merger should not be considered on media plurality grounds, meaning the issue is now back with the OFT on competition grounds.
The OFT now says it is appropriate to act swiftly to refer the merger to the Competition Commission for a detailed competition review, in line with the original ‘fast-track’ request by Global Radio earlier this year.
The OFT found that the loss of competition in a number of regional and local areas gave rise to concerns that the merger could result in increased prices for advertisers. Given that these findings justified a reference to the Competition Commission, the OFT did not need to reach a conclusion on a number of other potential areas of concern that are detailed in its report.
Clive Maxwell, OFT Chief Executive and Decision Maker in this case, said: ‘The issuing of an intervention notice allowed the Secretary of State to consider, based on advice from Ofcom, whether the merger should be considered on media plurality grounds. Given her decision that it should not, the OFT believes it is appropriate to act swiftly to refer the merger to the Competition Commission for a detailed competition review, in line with the original ‘fast-track’ request of the merging parties and the assessment that the OFT has carried out.’
Now the final decision on the conditions of the merger lies with the Competition Commission. Some industry experts believe this process could be complete in as little as three or four months.