Bauer purchase of four groups to be further investigated by CMA

The Competition and Markets Authority says it’s pushing Bauer Media’s purchase of Lincs FM Group, Celador Radio, UKRD and Wireless’ local stations to a full ‘Phase 2’ investigation.

It means an in-depth investigation will be carried out into the proposed acquisitions and the next statutory deadline for a further decision will be 21st January 2020.

The four groups – and First Radio Sales – will have to continue operating under ‘hold separate’ terms for the time being.

Dee Ford CBE, Group Managing Director, Bauer Radio, told RadioToday: “We will continue to work with the CMA as it continues its enquiries.”

Last month the CMA raised concerns about Bauer acquiring some of the key rivals to their existing local radio stations in the West of England, West Midlands and Yorkshire regions. Its primary concern, however, was how the change of ownership of the stations would affect the future viability of First Radio Sales Limited.

Bauer announced its purchases of Lincs, Celador and the Wireless stations in the same week in February, before buying UKRD in March.

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22 Comments
  1. MF O'Connor says

    Excellent news!!…anything that slows the decimation of good (local) radio should be welcomed.

    1. mb23 says

      Global’s purchase of GMG showed that there are ways around it. It may involve Bauer giving written undertakings to financially support FRS.

      1. Martin Kong says

        What about selling the 50% holding of FRS to Wireless as under Companies House filing First Radio Sales is 50% Wireless and 50% UKRD, which was purchased by Bauer.

        1. mb23 says

          That isn’t going to help, it isn’t about the ownership of FRS. The issue is that Bauer are buying up most of the current customer base of FRS. With a much smaller customer base of independent stations the prices charged could escalate, and damage the remaining stations.

    2. Radio Geordie says

      It’ll be things like having to sell certain assets such as its small-scale DAB licences it recently acquired from Celador & UKRD and the odd stations such as Stray, MInster & Yorkshire Coast as they straddle other areas they already own on the grounds of lack of competition.

      1. Martin Kong says

        Selling the stations in the areas of concern is the probably easy to work out, it’s the FRS thing that is the biggest stumbling block.

    3. Mark Budgen says

      the Lincs FM group isn’t a good radio group. It’s dated and old fashioned. Both in a bad way.

      1. T1 says

        Listening figures dId well last week on Lincs FM.

    4. David says

      Good local radio, remember Celador’s included in this

  2. Radio Geordie says

    There’s a rumor doing the rounds at the minute that Global are buying Qudiem – no doubt so they can expand their Capital service.

    1. Martin Kong says

      No surprises. However because of Bauer’s purchases. It’s has stopped Global from trying to expand their Capital FM service in the following areas: Wolverhampton, Blackpool, Bristol, Bournemouth Ipswich and Norwich.

      1. mb23 says

        There are no remaining independent FM stations in those areas.

        1. Martin Kong says

          I know. If Bauer didn’t make these purchases, then Global would of. Hence Global group could expand the Capital FM service on the FM dial in those markets I’ve mentioned.

          Plus Global would of have to transfer some station to Communicorp to satisfy the CMA.

      2. Radio Geordie says

        Again, Radio Wave in Blackpool may also have to be sold as its inside Rock FM’s transmission area. If Global bought it, it could well become another Capital.

        1. mb23 says

          There is no chance of them selling stations to Global, it will be a sale to a “friendly” company, such as Nation.

          1. Martin Kong says

            Mb 23.

            I know. Me and Radio Geordie were talking about what happens if Global purchased the wireless local stations instead of Bauer. Radio Geordie was just giving an example to what will happen to Radio Wave in Blackpool.

            Of course we know that if Bauer were to sell station, it would be to Nation or a few to Hellius.

    2. Jimbob says

      Haven’t they done put enough people out of a job already!

  3. Joe Smith says

    A brown envelope or two will see them ok.

  4. Mark Budgen says

    it’s pointless because the CMA will give in as usual.

    1. Martin N Blowers says

      When are people going to stop calling these bland plastic same old same old corporate cash cows “local radio stations”
      They’re about as local as Tesco express is your local corner shop!

  5. Jamie Crampton says

    Radio’s been dying since corporates were allowed to buy blocks of licences in the 90’s, even if Bauer don’t get this through they’ll wiggle something shady with a few nods and brown envelopes in the right direction. Precisely how GWR got the numbers of licences increased in the 90’s. It’s as corrupt as the charts.

  6. Lee says

    I am no fan of Global or Bauer and there business plans of grabbing and slashing heritage radio stations in favour of bland formats and quazi national brands but i think you have to be very careful when talking about brown envelopes. There is no evidence for this. I think what you can say is that OFCOM seem to roll over and allow big radio groups to further increase there domination if the uk radio industry.. For example, if you live in North East London you can receive Heart FM from their transmitters in Essex, Herts, London and Kent, as well as on DAB. That is a waste iif frequencies which stifles competition.in my view i would also add that i am very dubious about the RAJAR figures and how they are recorded

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