COMPETITION authorities have ordered the UK’s largest radio operator, Global Radio, to sell off some of its stations.
The Competition Commission yesterday told Global, which owns Heart, LBC, Capital and XFM among others, that it will have to sell off stations in seven regions to win approval for its £70m acquisition of GMG Radio, the owner of the Real and Smooth networks.
Buying GMG Radio from the Guardian Media Group will give Global almost 50 per cent of the commercial radio market in the UK, a position deemed unacceptable by the authorities.
The move came as a surprise to Global, which had appeared to have sailed through the regulatory process when the commission gave the merger preliminary approval in February.
However, it yesterday warned that the deal would lead to higher advertising prices in seven regions including the East Midlands, Greater Manchester and the Northeast, and that Global will have to sell off either stations it already owns or the GMG Radio ones it is acquiring.
“[This] will preserve competition and protect these advertisers’ interests,” Simon Polito, who led the inquiry, said.