Bauer Media makes fourth major acquisition this year with UKRD purchase

Bauer Media continues to buy radio groups in the UK with the purchase of UKRD – its fourth acquisition this year.

UKRD owns and operates 10 local commercial radio stations from Cornwall to Yorkshire. They are Wessex FM, Eagle Radio, KLFM, Minster FM, Mix 96, Pirate FM, Yorkshire Coast Radio, Spire FM, Spirit FM and Stray FM.

It also has business interests in DAB multiplexes and First Radio Sales.

Paul Keenan, CEO Bauer Media UK and European Radio commented: “These stations are an excellent addition to our business and further extend our reach into completely new areas of the UK.

“This further demonstrates our long-term commitment and belief in commercial radio which has never been so exciting – for both listeners and advertisers. With record revenues for the third year running, the radio medium has grown by a third in the past five years alone, and with its highest share of listening since 2001, commercial radio is in a stronger position than ever before.”

William Rogers, Chief Executive Officer UKRD, adds: “UKRD’s radio stations will make a great addition to the Bauer portfolio and the opportunities that may well present themselves to many of our talented and highly professional people will be greatly enhanced by this acquisition. The inclusion in the deal of UKRD’s interest in FRS ensures that the agency will continue to serve its clients.”

Bauer recently purchased Lincs FM, Celador Radio and Wireless Group’s local radio stations, which will run in Hold Separate until the Competition and Markets Authority completes an investigation.

On this, Bauer tells RadioToday: “The CMA has made some preliminary inquiries into our acquisitions of Lincs FM Group, Celador and Wireless local radio stations in England and Wales. As part of this, it has asked us to “hold separate” and run on a standalone basis the acquired local stations. This is a standard procedural step taken by the CMA when it makes inquiries about completed mergers. Bauer is cooperating fully with the CMA.”

Whilst Hold Separate is active, Carol Edwards will be running the Celador Radio group, Iain Fowler will be running the Wireless stations and Keith Briggs will be running the Lincs FM Group stations. The length of the investigation is unknown at this point.

Global entered a similar state when buying GMG Radio – with that process lasting almost two years.

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51 Comments
  1. David King says

    I was sure that it was only a matter of time before this happened. Well, that’s the old-style ILR virtually finished then. There’s Media Sound Holdings on the south coast. I can’t think of any other independent groups left after them. How long?

    1. Radio Geordie says

      There’s also Nation, Quidem, Q, New Wave & Kent Messenger (KMFM) – all relatively small operators.
      Q operates in Northern Ireland & New Wave operates in Scotland (they own Original & Central). As these two are in areas when Bauer are already the dominant operator, I doubt that Bauer could get them. Global could though. The others – who knows?
      My bets on Kent Messenger as it owns several Kent FM licences (which Global couldn’t own as they already have Heart & Smooth in the same areas) as well as the local TV licence and the local newspapers. As Bauer are a multi-media company, it would be a perfect fit.

      1. oxmale1981 says

        Bauer has sold its TV interests to Channel 4 and doesn’t publish newspapers, so if it did it would only be interested in the radio stations.

  2. Mark Budgen says

    Then Bauer buys Global or Global buys Bauer and that’s the end of independent radio in the UK…. a sad, sad time.

    1. sj says

      The Competition and Markets Authority wouldn’t allow one of these companies to own everything, hence why Bauer’s had to give stations away as part of their purchases.

      1. Dave says

        …and at a guess, they could franchise any stations they need to release the brand to Nation Radio, just like Global did with Communicorp.

      2. Iven says

        Bauer and global always wants to kill local radio in uk and with the help of Ofcom they have been successfull

    2. Jamie says

      I’ve had to delete so many presets after they get bought out by a behemoth. My question is, if I want to hear proper local radio, which hospital do I need to go to?

      1. Radio Geordie says

        What about community radio?
        These are about the only local services left.
        Mind you, it does also depend on where you live.

        1. Rod Hardisty says

          Community radio is about the only safe radio left.

  3. Dave says

    kmfm next perhaps? I don’t think they have any Stations in Kent yet do they?

    1. Ian Scott says

      It’s the next obvious one, yes. Glocal own Heart in Kent, which covers the exact same area.

    2. Radio Geordie says

      As I’ve replied to above, I predict that’ll be next as both Bauer & Kent Messenger Group are multi-media companies – TV, radio & newspapers. It would be a perfect fit for Bauer.

  4. David Colley says

    Disastrous! How long will Sunshine Radio last I wonder?

  5. Richard says

    Well Wireless stations are still doomed then until they become a proper part of Bauer. I pray for the teams that, that changes comes soon.

  6. Timothy says

    I suspected this when Eagle Radio
    80’s disappeared off Radioplayer at the weekend. Independent local radio RIP with the support of Radio Centre who have made their “don’t upset the behemoths” servitude abundantly clear. They should be fighting these acquisitions not supinely cheerleading them.

    1. mb23 says

      UKRD are not members of Radio Centre (they left in 2009), so I’m not sure how this is relevant. It was UKRD’s decision to sell.

  7. Ian Scott says

    UKRD has an interest in First Radio Sales (FRS), which will now pass to Bauer.

    If I were a small independent/minor group with FRS, to have Bauer knowing what sales I was receiving and having Bauer partly control my income – well, I would be very worried.

    1. Radio Geordie says

      Did Bauer not acquire Wireless’ stake in FRS the other week?

      1. Ian Scott says

        Did they? I must have missed that if correct.

        If so, then that now own 100% of the agency that sells many small stations they don’t own.

        UKRD did pull all but their national advertising from FRS last December.

  8. RathergoodDAB says

    I don’t know about you but I’m heading straight to Kent to erect a wall in an attempt to preserve their independence. I suggest you all join me, or go build your own in Northern Ireland for Q Radio, Scotland for New Wave and West Midlands for Quidem. We will not stop until the last transmitter has fallen and the final local voice has aired.

    1. Joe Smith says

      I simply save time and ensure I don’t turn on Ratherbad Radio. It works very well!

  9. Radio Geordie says

    I can’t see them being able to keep the three Yorkshire stations (Minster, Stray & YCR) as they operate in at least two overlapping Bauer areas.
    Stray operates within the Radio Aire & a part of the TFM area.
    Yorkshire Coast operates within the Viking & TFM areas.
    Minster on the other hand straddles all three, maybe also recently acquired Lincs FM.
    Can’t see any problems in keeping the others.
    Maybe three more stations for Nation to acquire?

    1. Ian Scott says

      A couple of weeks ago, when they did the first major buys, Bauer announced at the same time which stations were being passed off to others.

      This time they didn’t do that.

      Maybe they have decided to wait and see the result of the competition investigation, to see what they can keep from today’s purchase?

  10. Lee Jackson says

    Really sad day for radio in this country but a great opportunity for the BBC, and community radio if the funding rules are relaxed. Just remember it will cost a lot of money to advertise on Global and Bauer radio stations so there is opportunity for cheaper advertising and sponsorship on community radio.

    OFCOM are absolutely toothless and bent over backwards Global and Bauer which is just what they wanted. We got what we deserve in this country and allowed it to happen. Don’t we deserve better than radio at its lowest common denominator: robotic presenters, music tracks on frequent rotation, dumbed down news bulletins from a central source often reading from press releases, dumbed down travel news bulletins with two or three stories relating to incidents outside of your area, and the same sets of commercials on frequent rotation

    Soon we will have Smooth, Heart, Capital, Classic FM, Greatest Hits Radio, Hits Radio and there subsidiaries like Heart 80’s on DAB and virtually every FM licence in the UK.

    Just awful!

    1. Richard says

      Couldn’t agree more. I feel for some of the people at some of the stations who are talented and have worked in Radio for years. It is really awful. Some others though, who have been shocking senior managers, not knowing what good looks like and micro-managing the hell out of people.

      1. Richard says

        …I don’t feel sorry for them. They need a wake-up call.

    2. mb23 says

      The advertising won’t change for these stations, you can still buy a slot for a local area even if the output is regional. It will be split at the regional hub.

    3. Ben says

      Perhaps time heart capital kiss etc should be made to hand in some of the frequency numbers and be put on common frequency’s on FM and 1 version over DAB and as nothing really being different force them to broadcast on the same frequency even if cause interference – it’s the big 2 own fault

      Maybe an independent traffic and local/regional news station away for the big 2.

      May as well introduce a digital 3 national network this rate and force sound digital, Bauer and global to invest in coverage upgrades for both with what they save hehe

      Little point in the local dab areas – give the stations like student and community radio a boost if they willing!

  11. Alan says

    Looks like we will end up with the 2 broadcasting groups – BBC as in British Broadcasting Corporation and BBC as in Bauer Broadcasting Corporation.

  12. Gregory Butler says

    I wonder what David Lloyd feels about his Radio Centre blood money hatchet job on Community Radio Now?

    ILRs ? What ILRs? He of all people should be supporting Community Radio – it soon will be the ONLY independent local radio left!

  13. Dave says

    Will we see globel buying the likes of quidem?

  14. TowerOfPower says

    Another sad day for what’s left of ILR – hope the likes of Dee and Silk FM keep their independence…

  15. Dale says

    What a sad day, these big companies are ruining everything. local radio is dead to me now. i remember when viking was emap and they only had about 8 stations, how things change

  16. MICHAEL BOLTON says

    Without getting into a gripe about recent weeks ownership changes I will say that the UKRD stations ( in particular my own local station Mix96 ) are very vocal and local. Way more than the Bauer stations have been for a long time. Mix 96 has posted its best EVER listening figures in the last year and its staff work so hard to be that local voice surrounded by big boys. Aylesbury used to be served by Horizon, Fox and Mix. It would be a shame to see the studios closed and programming from Manchester with a bit from somwhere “near” the south coast or birmingham!!?? A huge change for our station which I really can’t see making it through the other side – other than Hits Radio and all of those local businesses who advertise will get ignored or forced to sell to a bigger area. UKRD was a natural fit to the portfolios of Global / Bauer but thier assimilationis not going to be painless for staff, advertisers or listeners.

    1. John Ross says

      Well that’s the end of “proper local radio” then. It’s highly likely that the 3 Yorkshire stations will be one regional station and be either the Hits or Greatest Hits Radio across North Yorkshire.

  17. Rob says

    Another day with BBC news at 10 leading with footage from Global radio studios. As ST Gillian Ren reported last weekend it happened twice last week also. UK Commercial Radio really is in its prime right now.

    1. mb23 says

      Cressida Dick on LBC?

  18. David King says

    As far as community radio is concerned, restrictions and red tape need to be removed as soon as possible. There’s no reason to ‘protect’ relay transmissions of national networks so OFCOM should allow the community stations to sell as much advertising and sponsorship as they can. I doubt that rules will be relaxed in a hurry though!

    1. Gregory Butler says

      whatever happens it will be too little too late I fear – the industry in general has been so busy knocking community radio and not supporting it’s efforts that except in a few cases – it will be a long road to knock community radio into a shape that can truly give a full local service. But we WILL give it our best efforts!

  19. Steve Haigh says

    what happened to the idea of partnership working BBC local stations and Community Radio?
    there are many benefits on both sides to BBC Local and Community stations sharing content /presenters /news gather/ to make a real fist of providing truly hyper-local news and information service and get local people talking on air.
    Any chance BBC Local Radio high-ups will meet with me to explore?
    I won’t hold my breath!

    Steve Haigh,
    Radio Ninesprings 104,.5 fm
    new local community radio station for Yeovil and South Somerset

    1. Ian Scott says

      Many community stations are working closely and well under the initiative.

      Have you actually been in touch with your local BBC station to set things up?

  20. Dave G says

    Oh my goodness will look out for Eagle becoming another relay for Heart then.
    What next? Bauer buys Radio Caroline? Nooooo!

    1. Ian Scott says

      Hardly, Heart is Global and Bauer just bought Eagle.

      1. Dave G says

        Well you get the gist hopefully 😉

  21. Jordan Shooter says

    If you don’t like Bauer Radio, Then listen somewhere else

    1. Dave G says

      It’s more that with Bauer buying up all the stations they could all just become clones and relays of Bauers main output. The individuality and local feel will be lost

  22. Jordan Shooter says

    Also i can’t wait for the extended universe of the Hits Radio Network

  23. Jordan Shooter says

    The Hits Radio Network is finally getting stations from Celador (Anglia Stations and Fire Radio only), Lincs FM Group, UKRD, and Wireless Group. If you got the perfect release date for The bigger and better Hits Radio Network, Please let me know, Okay?

  24. JASON ANDREW TOPPIN says

    I WILL GUVDE AN EXAMPLE OF A FORMER TOP RATING RADIO STATION IN MELBOURNE THAT HAS BEEN REDUCED TI A RELAY TO A SPORTS RADIO STATION… THE FORMER TOP RATING RADIO STATION IN THE 1990’S IN MELBOURNE 3MP WAS CLASSIC ROCK RADIO UNTIL AUGUST 2018 NOW IT IUS A RELAY TO SPORTS RADIO STATION 116 SEN UNDER THE NAME SEN + 1377AM THUS IS TI THE PEOLLE QWHI CIMMENTED ON THIS ARTICLE WHO ARE NIT HAPPY WITH BAUER MEDIA BUYING OF WIRELESS RADIO STATONS AND HAV SAID THEY WILL EALY MAIN CONTENT ON THOSE RADIO STATIONS BECAUSE THIS HAS ALREADY HAPPENED IN MELBOURNE

    1. Jordan Shooter says

      No Seriously, Give me the official release date of the Bigger and Better Hits Radio Network Please?

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