Communicorp buys 8 Global Radio stations
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Communicorp buys 8 Global Radio stations

Global Radio is selling eight radio stations in response to a ruling by the Competition Commission after buying GMG Radio in June 2012.

The stations being sold are Smooth Radio North West, North East and East Midlands, along with Capital South Wales, Real Radio North Wales, Capital Scotland, Real Radio Yorkshire and Real XS Manchester.

The single buyer for all stations is Dublin based Communicorp, owner of Today FM, Spin and Newstalk for a reported £35m. Communicorp is wholly owned by Denis O’Brien, subject to regulatory approval.

And whilst the stations will operate under new owners and sell local airtime, national sales and non-peak programming will still be provided by Global Radio under a franchise agreement.

All existing Real Radio stations will become Heart, as expected, and the former Marcher stations, currently Heart, will become Capital.

Smooth Radio will expand to Gold’s frequencies on AM across the UK except in London, East Midlands and Manchester.

Global Radio originally bought the assets of GMG Radio in June 2012 but has been through the Office of Fair Trading and the Competition Commission before being told to sell stations in seven areas of the UK which would have caused a Substantial Lessening of Competition.

Stephen Miron, Global’s Group CEO said: “We are delighted to have agreed this deal with Communicorp so quickly. Most importantly the conclusion of this deal solidifies Global’s position as the number one commercial radio company in the UK, and enables our brands to continue to grow, extending their reach into all parts of the UK, making Global’s offering truly national. The future launch of Heart in five new regions, Smooth in many new regions and a new Capital in North Wales is particularly exciting and enables us to continue our strategy of ‘national brands delivered locally.’ This is great news for listeners and advertisers/”

Gervaise Slowey, Communicorp’s Chief Executive commented: “We are delighted to add these popular radio stations to the Group’s stable. It’s clear that the UK advertising market is buoyant, and this move will make us the 4th largest commercial radio group in the UK from a standing start. The brand licence agreement that we have in place with Global for Heart, Capital and Smooth will allow us to combine the clout of a national brand with local presence, and we feel this model will provide the best of both worlds to our listeners and our customers.”

1 47 8744 07 February, 2014 Alerts, Industry News Friday, February 7th, 2014


  1. dmr

    Oh dear…what a disaster…was so hoping that a new player would come into the market and offer something new and fresh rather than the drivel that is capital, heart and to some extent smooth.

    1. Peter Heap

      Right, it’s time to get the hounds on you because Capital FM and Heart FM are the only two massive hit music stations that make the music industry more popular. I don’t know how you possibly think that both of these stations are “drivel” because they are not… they are “impressive” and “very well known”, whilst being “very popular” all at the same time!

      1. gce

        They are drivel, they’re only popular with those with absolutely no music taste or imagination who only listen to pop music because they can’t actually comprehend good music. They only like what’s popular so they tune into the McRadio looking for their pop fix. Capital is aimed towards chavs and teenage girls. Heart wouldn’t be quite as bad if they actually played a variety of music like they claim to, still more variety than Capital, I suppose.

  2. Miss X

    I wonder if that Musicmaster bloke who’s been predicting all sorts of outlandish situations on Digital Spy for the past eighteen months will throw his radio out of the window in frustration? I mean, someone from Little Mix said Real Radio Yorkshire was going to be renamed to Signal! How dare a predictable business deal be done with a Global ally from Ireland?

    On a serious note – I think the ultimate owners of Global are unknown, but are believed to be from Ireland. Does anyone else think it a little odd that the organisation controlling such a large slice of radio in the UK is operated by mystery foreign owners? This deal is done, but if I was Radio Today, I would certainly be looking into any possible links between Global and Communicorp. Does Denis O’Brien really control both?

    1. mrwongaman

      DS is one funny place… in the sense comical, laughable.
      Seriously, though, what’s the betting they’ll sell up in a few years time, and not to Global?

      Could there be an MBO and we see an Anglia Radio-type situation, and the brand licensing go, and Marcher Sound return possibly, with smart networking so the stations are one station, different names?

      But for now… will Capital on North Wales Coast have Welsh opt-outs, and Cerian Griffith at the weekend, and Kev Bach on Sunday nights?

      Will Real South Wales now get extended news?
      Also, could the Heart brand go after a few months, a la Gem 106, or am I looking too far ahead here?

      Real Yorkshire was always a male-driven station anyway, it should bring back the sport etc. and be a Leeds-focused station not a Heart one, as that was its core values!!

      1. Miss X

        I can’t see any of that happening – the deal is too cosy. There will be no MBO, no rebrand, no return of Marcher, Galaxy, Beat 106, Champion 103 or any other ye olde radio names. Certainly no Juice or Signal or NRJ or any of the other rubbish from Digital Spy. This is done, Heart and Capital are coming, and that’s that. They learned their lesson with the Orion / Gem 106 debacle.

        Yorkshire is apparently due to get a male-focused, sport-heavy station on DAB in the coming few months – Leeds-based Radio Yorkshire, the resurrection of Yorkshire Radio.

        1. mrwongaman

          Well, most of us never expected UKRD to sell Star 107.2 in Bristol, did we, and use the Star name under licence for a bit, when Tomahawk Radio was created (remember them?)

          What if Communicorp decide to sell on, like UKRD did with Star and a few ex-TLRC stations? You never know in the world of radio.

          Real Radio at its peak 2006-2011 was good, but post-2011 it lost its way a bit.
          Here’s my criticism of Heart, constructive one…

          They could discontinue Toby Anstis network-wide, except London, and maybe network Darren Parks 10am-1pm from Manchester, and drop Nick Snaith 1-4pm outside of London and have local automation 1-3pm / 1-2pm, and drivetime 3-7pm (or 2-6pm with an automated 6pm-7pm Happy Hour-type show).

          It’s not a bad station, but the presenters need to speak more, be allowed personality in daytime, listener interaction etc., news specials e.g. an hour-long news special 1-2pm about domestic violence, racism, illegal immigration etc. using Global’s news resources; partially done by LBC?
          Also, have football at the weekend, since the ‘footy chick’ demographic probably would like that… Heart 106.2 London with Millwall/Spurs coverage etc.

          Heart should cut the celebs, and maybe go back to basics, as it was back in the day, a quirky but enjoyable little station (remember when it used to have a regional 4-7pm show with Emma B, if you didn’t like Hit 40 UK you could switch to Heart?); back in 2007 it was good as a Midlands regional network, but now in 2013 seems like a brand that’s lost its way, in a marketing sense, not playlist-wise, no issues there.

          So, in all, Heart isn’t bad, but could have some improvements, here and there.

    2. mb

      The Competition Commission would have asked that question before they signed off the deal. There is nothing to investigate, they have approved it and everyone has to move on now.

  3. Sibbers

    Denis O’Brien = Ashley Tabor’s Dads’ best friend. A round a golf, a bottle of Whiskey – and the deal was done.

          1. Sibbers

            Sorry, I’ve just had this confirmed. It wasn’t Whiskey… It was a pint of Guinness. Good deal if you ask me.

          2. radiogeeeeeeezer

            In the words of EE Kevin Bacon… The deal is a NO Brainer.. what else did folk think would happen, Global remain in place, re-licence the Stations the “Have” too, to a friend of a friend and hay ho, Sorted, I think its a great arrangement

          3. downtonabbeygrl

            Why don’t Global rebrand all the Heart stations to Real and give Real some new imaging, personality presentation, etc.
            Maybe have Parksy and Debbie replacing Toby Anstis and Nick Snaith across the network, and Real 106.2 London replacing Heart London.

            Could just work out… at least they can get rid of Heart’s awful red-on-white websites; Real’s have the better logo and colour scheme.

            If Heart and Real merged they could rebrand all the Heart stations to Real…. it would work quite nicely, just bring back the Real late-night phone-in like Late Night Love used to be.

          4. downtonabbeygrl

            Real does seem to be popular in places like South Wales and Scotland; the brand could work if they gave it a ‘re-start’.
            Heart 106.2 could drop Jamie and Emma from breakfast, maybe get someone like Darren Spence or Chris Marsden to do breakfast on Heart London with no co-presenter, and have drivetime with JK, move Lucy to network overnights possibly?

            I think Real was mismanaged as a brand but it did seem popular, as the Real Renegade showed.

          5. Peter Heap

            The only reason Real Radio is popular is because everyone’s death and no I don’t mean that in an offensive way to death people!

          6. realsmoothdj

            I hear that Heart will have a new evening jock from the middle of the year, I believe it’s a well-known American pop star apparently and it’ll be VT’d – even in London. Roberto will probably go to afternoons.

          7. Peter Heap

            How would it work quite nicely? That’s like merging one good music station with a bad one because Real Radio is crap! Switch to Capital FM, it’s better!

    1. Mr Pedantic

      Actually, I hate to break it to you – but it’s Whisky – Whiskey isn’t generally what the “Irish Drink” so it’s not racist.

  4. MP

    I’m surprised Global didn’t also sell the Scottish Real XS to Communicorp. Will be interesting if Global also franchise XS to Communicorp or will go it alone.

  5. fried_egg

    Sounds like a waste of time from a meaningless regulator decision. If Global remain behind the scenes there is little expectation of any difference from being directly owned or not by them.

  6. Who Knows?

    Communicorp’s stations in Ireland are generally excellent – they have a couple of Spin-branded stations with local programming into the evening, 98FM and Newstalk are high quality and well-branded, Today FM is a good national service. Spin has even expanded out into Eastern Europe and the Middle East.

    Are we likely to now see a reduction in that level of service in Ireland? They have got to be tempted – there’s a good synergy between Spin and Capital; and 98FM and Heart. To a lesser extent because of obvious differences in content, Newstalk is now roughly analogous to the new national LBC. At risk of setting Musicmasterprox off again, I’d be watching out for at least Heart Dublin as a next step!

  7. Dave M

    It was obvious from when Global got the thumbs down about owning those stations that they would be sold on to something that they would still have control over them, yet be seemingly far enough removed from it all to satisfy the Competition Commission. Smoke and mirrors. Like selling it to my wife’s sister. She gets a cut, but with a contracted proviso I still really own it all.

  8. Radio Geordie

    Let’s see if I’ve read this right.
    As of today (Feb 6th), the licences are owned by Cummunicorp but the stations will continue as they are now under a franchising agreement. Yes?

    If that’s right, all that’s changed is the bit of paper that says Global not longer own the licence.

    I am surprised that Glasgow’s Real XS were not sold as the rebranding was a disaster.

    However, to no one’s surprise, Real is going to become Heart but it doesn’t give any clues as to when. When Heart launches on Digital 1 perhaps when it replaces Smooth?

    It would explain why Smooth is being pulled from Digital 1 if it is going to be available on AM & FM across large chunks of the country, no doubt along with the local DAB platforms.

  9. stevieg

    Totally meaningless for the listeners. Same stations playing same tired music but with different owners. Boring!

  10. Seen It

    One would think Juice in Liverpool are maybe crapping it at this point. Capital 97.1 will give them a run. Even outside their TSA it will have potential to decrease their Rajar numbers.

    1. KACLFan

      Capital will have the problem of poor signal, and not being as local or friendly as Juice 107.6, it would have worked better if 97.1/103.4 became STAR 97.1/103.4 and had output networked from Sunderland off-peak possibly?
      Juice has everything Capital doesn’t; locality, not too narrow or broad a playlist, locally produced shows, connects well with target audience – the Scousers – and sounds individual.
      UKRD should approach Communicorp and get the ex-Marcher stations maybe… if that’d even work.

  11. Glenn Wilson

    I’m really lost as to the point of the Competition Commission ruling and this end result.

    If allowing Global to sell to someone who was only going to keep Global programmes on air …what was the point.

    So the licence is owned by someone else, but the outcome is the same as if Global still owned them

    Pointless regulators with no teeth.

  12. Skirt alert

    “And whilst the stations will operate under new owners and sell local airtime, national sales and non-peak programming will still be provided by Global Radio under a franchise agreement.” The word SKIRTING comes to mind, as in skirting the spirit of the law. Global seem to still have their iron in this fire in all but the actual ‘ownership’ of the stations. Another way to look at it: Communicorp is the owner, Global is the tenant and is allowed to repaint and decorate the way it sees fit.

    1. mb

      The Competition Commission were only ever interested in the selling of local airtime, everything else about the deal wasn’t a problem for them. This condition is now satisfied so the deal is approved. There is no skirting around.

      1. Skirt Alert

        Ashley, how many jumpers do you own? If this were the case then why fight tooth and nail to keep the stations???? Why not just sell them in the first place and be happy to be able to sell the national airtime? Why? I’ll tell you why, for the same reason Global was INTENT on retaining the stations whilst trying to use the argument radio was not the only local media that should be considered by the Competition Commission; unfortunately they fought so hard to keep the stations that in doing so they proved the argument that terrestrial radio signals are of immense value and importance.

  13. James Vincent

    on the first two paragraphs. I was rather happy. But then I got to the third… ‘And whilst the stations will operate under new owners and sell local airtime, national sales and non-peak programming will still be provided by Global Radio under a franchise agreement.’
    Oh dear… Can’t they just let them go…

  14. Peter Heap

    I wish they’d stop changing everything on lots of different local music stations as it really pees me off. Doesn’t it you?

  15. Gary in Sidcup

    Are about to see the end of Gold Radio as we know it, I do enjoy Smooth Radio since Global took it over they have made Smooth Better , if they are going to change Gold to Smooth then please Global just for once be honest with your listeners.

  16. Pingback: New commercial appointments at Global North West | RadioToday

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