Maria Miller clears Global Radio’s GMG takeover in blow to Bauer

GLOBAL RADIO’S takeover of GMG Radio, the owner of the Smooth and Real stations, was cleared by culture secretary Maria Miller yesterday, in a significant victory for Britain’s biggest commercial radio operator after former culture head Jeremy Hunt had ordered an investigation into the deal.

The acquisition, which has an estimated value of £70m and will give Global around 47 per cent of the UK’s commercial radio market, will not be referred to the Competition Commission on media plurality grounds, Miller said. The culture secretary decided not to probe the deal after Global offered to expand its news service in Wales, which was the major point of concern.

Hunt had asked Ofcom to investigate the deal before leaving the department last month, but the media regulator recommended that the takeover did not raise plurality issues.

Today’s move marks a major hurdle to the deal’s completion, with the Office of Fair Trading now referring the deal to the Competition Commission on competition grounds, rather than the more strict media plurality concerns.

The decision is a blow to Global’s rival Bauer Media, whose chief executive Paul Keenan has lobbied for the deal to be blocked. Bauer said yesterday: “The Global/GMG transaction threatens this as it creates excessive concentration and fundamentally changes the future shape of the commercial radio marketplace.”