The OFT has spoken. GCap has agreed to dispose of BRMB, Beacon, Wyvern and Mercia in the West Midlands and sell Heart 106 in the East Midlands to ensure that its merger with Global Radio can go through without any more regulatory intervention. They’re mostly good stations, which will have been hard to let go, but the new prize is definitely worth it.
I mentioned in a previous post that I felt in the East Midlands that they would sell Trent, Leicester and Ram rather than Heart 106 as losing Heart would have caused them some brand disappointment. However, the smoke signals coming out of GCap suggest that there’s a deal on the cards where the Heart brand will be licensed to the new owner, which will seemingly keep their network intact.
Though as they’ve apparently been allowed to keep selling Smooth, it’ll be interesting to see whether they’ll still be able to represent Heart 106 nationally as well.
So, who’s going to buy the discarded bunch? Bauer surely has to be at the front of the queue to add them to their Big City Network – but would GCap want to sell them to its major One/Heart network competitor? I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw someone else joining the fray.
It will also be interesting to see whether this is the final move, or just one of the elements of this round of radio Monopoly?