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Global Radio will not further appeal Competition Commission ruling on Real Smooth deal

By | Published on Monday 16 December 2013

Global Radio

Global Radio has confirmed that it is throwing in the towel in its fight with the Competition Commission over its acquisition of the Guardian Media Group’s former radio business.

As previously reported, Global acquired GMG’s Smooth and Real Radio networks last year in a £70 million deal, but the arrangement required clearance from the competition regulator.

Following criticism of the takeover from Global’s key competitors, the Commission ruled that the radio giant could only keep a minority of the additional stations it had acquired, and would have to sell off outlets in seven regions, either its recent Real Smooth acquisitions, or one of its existing operations in those markets.

Global called the ruling “outdated”, and said it failed to appreciate new competition in the advertising market that meant that the FM radio sector no longer operated in isolation. But last month the Competition Appeal Tribunal dismissed Global’s arguments against the Commission’s original ruling.

Although initially critical of the Tribunal’s decision too, Global said on Friday that it would not seek a further appeal, and instead would comply with the Commission’s ruling and put several stations up for sale in early 2014.

Quite who will buy those stations remains to be seen. Main rival Bauer has acquired Planet Rock and Absolute since Global’s GMG deal, so is unlikely interested in the Real Smooth stations, and indeed could find itself subject to Competition Commission restrictions if it bid for the former GMG licences.

Which leaves UTV Radio, known to have been unwilling to pay the sum Global paid for Real and Smooth back in 2012, or the smaller commercial radio players, who might be interested in one or two of the Real Smooth stations.

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