CMA to probe Bauer acquisition spree with in-depth investigation

Bauer acquired a raft of local radio stations earlier this year.

Bauer: competition concerns
Bauer: competition concerns

The Competition and Markets Authority is to carry out an in-depth investigation into Bauer Media’s acquisition of a raft of local radio stations, citing competition concerns.

Last month the watchdog warned it would conduct an in-depth phase-two investigation unless its concerns over Bauer Media’s acquisition of UKRD Group and certain businesses of Celador Entertainment, Lincs FM Group and Wireless Group were addressed.

Earlier this year Bauer purchased 34 regional stations from Celador Radio and Lincs FM, 15 licences from News UK subsidiary Wireless Group and acquired 10-station-strong UKRD Group.

The initial phase-one investigation began in May and unearthed concerns about how these transactions might affect the future viability of competitor First Radio Sales (FRS), which sells radio advertising on behalf of more than 100 independent local stations across the UK.

The CMA said that FRS may not be able to stay in business after Bauer buys up a large number of the stations that currently make up its customer base.

Competition concerns have also been raised with regard to Bauer acquiring some of the key rivals to its existing local stations in the west of England, West Midlands and Yorkshire regions.

Dee Ford, group managing director at Bauer Radio, said: "We will continue to work with the CMA as it continues its enquiries."