CMA finally gives go-ahead to Bauer radio acquisitions

Competition watchdog completes third phase of investigation.

Bauer: started investigation in May 2019 (Getty Images)
Bauer: started investigation in May 2019 (Getty Images)

The Competition & Markets Authority has given the green light for Bauer Media’s acquisitions of Lincs FM, Celador Radio, UKRD Group and Wireless Group's local stations, three months after citing continuing concerns.

In February 2019, Bauer bought 34 regional stations from Celador Radio and Lincs FM, 15 licences from News UK subsidiary Wireless Group and the 10-station-strong UKRD.

However, the deal sparked an investigation from the CMA in May, the result of which raised several concerns. This led to a second-phase probe in August that led the CMA to say it still had worries over the impact of the acquisitions on the future of independent radio sales house First Radio Sales.

The organisation argued that should FRS be forced into closure, local stations would have to seek sales representation from Bauer or Global – something that could undermine competition and result in high commission rates.

A third phase of the CMA’s investigation kicked off in December, when the body sought views on the findings before publishing its final decision.

That decision has now been reached and clears the way for Bauer’s newly acquired stations.

Dee Ford, Bauer’s group managing director, radio, said: "This is great news for listeners and for commercial radio, and we are looking forward to welcoming Lincs FM, Celador Radio, UKRD and Wireless to Bauer.

"Audiences love and trust radio because of its compelling quality content and those stations joining Bauer will benefit from greater digital coverage and better access to national advertising. We are also looking forward to working with the independent stations currently represented by FRS and will be working closely with the CMA to implement the agreed remedy."

A copy of the CMA’s full report is available here.

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