It’s finally been announced. Global Radio has disposed of the stations it had to, to Ireland’s Communicorp.
When Global Radio acquired GMG Radio, unexpectedly for them, the Competition Commission decided that it would give them too much control of the local advertising market (they were fine about audience share and national revenue control). They then set them quite strict rules about what they would have to let go. This somewhat got in the way of Global’s desire to grow their Heart network as the disposals would likely cut across different brands.
However, the deal they’ve done with Ireland’s Communicorp is nearly perfect for Global. It was also a brilliantly well kept secret – no one that I talked to knew anything about it. Truly amazing and not something that tends to happen nowadays.
What the deal really means is that Global gets to re-imagine UK commercial radio along their own lines.
All the existing Capitals remain. However, Capital South Wales and Capital Scotland will be owned by Communicorp.
In addition a new Capital appears – Capital North Wales (owned by Global). They can do this because the frequencies that Heart in North Wales are on, are the old Marcher frequencies that used to be ILR radio stations. The formats of these are quite broad and so could easily ‘host’ either a Capital or Heart brand. Heart will leave these frequencies and re-appear on the current Real North wales frequencies replacing that brand.
Global will provide the Capital brand and network feed from Leicester Square.
Heart becomes a truly national brand.
Communicorp gets Real Radio Yorkshire (to be rebranded a Heart). Global will take on Real Radio North East, Real Radio North West, Real Radio Scotland and Real Radio South Wales, rebranding them all as Heart.
Global will continue to provide the Heart brand and network feed from Leicester Square.
Global announced that Smooth is coming off Digital One. This is because it starts to get complicated from a local ads perspective. A D1 listener in Newcastle would get national ads on DAB, but an FM listener would get local ads. It gets commercially complicated, so Smooth is split back into a network of local FM and DAB stations.
This has an affect on local programming too. By not being ‘national’, Smooth has to provide seven hours of local programming for each of their areas. Unless, that is, Global’s patchwork of local Smooth coverage gets up to 70% – if that’s the case it’s still regarded as ‘national’ and therefore none of the regionals (whoever owns them) will have to do local content (thanks to Will Jackson for that spot).
Smooth London, Smooth West Midlands and Smooth Glasgow will be owned by Global direct whilst the Smooths in the North West, North East and East Midlands will be owned by Communicorp.
In addition it seems that most of Global’s AM stations will be rebranded as Smooth – and take the Smooth network feed. Something that will increase DAB as well as analogue coverage too.
Global will continue to provide the Smooth brand and network feed from Leicester Square.
Gold loses a lot of its AM transmitters but will continue in London, the East Midlands and Manchester (where Smooth exists on FM).
Global will continue to provide the Gold brand and network feed from Leicester Square.
Global keeps the London and Manchester XFMs, but also adds what’s currently Real Radio XS in Paisley to the network.
Global will continue to provide the XFM brand and network feed from Leicester Square.
Still to come…
I’m not exactly sure what will happen with Real XS in Manchester (now owned by Communicorp).
There’s also a question whether the new “70s, 80s and 90s” brand that will go on Digital One could end up being what’s know at the moment as ‘Gold’ – but could, of course, be rebranded as something else… Heart Classics etc.
Overall, it puts Global in a very strong position. They’ve managed to satisfy the competition commission and hit their national brand objectives completely.
They’ll continue to provide national programming and sales and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Communicorp stations are co-located in Global buildings too.
Mark Lee who’s run Real and Smooth Ltd in the interim for Global has seemingly done a great job and will now get to do that in an expanded fashion as the UK Chief Exec for Communicorp.