Media Lifeline: Global Radio

The radio company has fallen foul of Ofcom and irked listeners as a result of its rebranding exercise.

16 April 2008: After Global Radio acquired Chrysalis Radio and GCap, the group chief executive, Ashley Tabor, upsets Chrysalis listeners when he reveals plans to cut local programming and introduce greater numbers of syndicated shows produced from London.

16 Sept 2008: Now Global announces that it intends to rationalise all of its assets in what it claims will be the biggest rebranding exercise in British commercial radio history, with up to 29 stations losing their local identity and being realigned to network brand names including Heart, Galaxy and Hit Music. Once resonant brands such as Invicta and GWR are to be ditched.

5 January 2009: And it soon becomes clear that the Heart brand will be the focus for much of the initial activity when nine local stations are shoehorned into a revamped network with more centralised programming - 14 hours of networked shows a day. The nine Heart rebrands include the mighty Hereward FM, Northants 96 and Q103. Added to the London Heart station, they form a nascent network of 12 stations.

13 March 2009: But Global's revamp plans are not without potential pitfalls - as it finds when it is handed a "yellow card" warning from Ofcom when its GWR station in Bristol is judged to be failing to deliver the contemporary music requirements (playing too many old hits) of its licence. Global threatens to defy Ofcom - and there are those who believe that the regulator will prove unable to stand by the letter of the law when the medium is as fragile as it is currently.

23 March 2009: Global co-opts another 12 local stations - including GWR in Bristol - into the Heart brand. The first syndicated show embracing all 24 stations in the new network, the Toby Anstis programme at 10am, boasts Lionel Richie as its guest star.

Fast forward ...

1 May 2009: When Global breaches the terms of a handful of licences to make the stations fit into the Heart network, it responds to an Ofcom warning by telling it where to go. With a Competition Commission inquiry still looming (because of its failure to dispose of some Midlands stations as promised following its acquisition spree), the Global chairman, Charles Allen, announces it will walk away from the UK market if it is thwarted.