Bauer Media are to face a phase 2 investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority, following their purchase of Lincs FM Group, Celador Radio, UKRD and Wireless’ local stations.
The decision deadline is 21st January 2020, with all stations remaining in hold separate until at least then.
Seperatly, Bauer have confirmed they are axing all local drivetime shows across the stations in England (except Wave 105, CFM, and Gem). The Scottish stations also now have Ofcom authorisation to do the same, although it has yet to be confirmed if a similar move will follow.
Bauer Media is acquiring UKRD, the operator of 10 local radio stations including Eagle Radio, Pirate FM, Minster FM and Yorkshire Coast Radio. Bauer has also acquired UKRD’s share of the MuxCo North Yorkshire, MuxCo Surrey & Sussex, South West Digital Radio (Cornwall and Plymouth) DAB multiplexes, and UKRD’s share of First Radio Sales, a national advert selling agency. It is not yet clear if digital station Encore has been included in the deal
Bauer’s recent acquisitions of Lincs FM Group, Celador Radio and Wireless Group’s local radio stations are now in Hold Separate Status, and UKRD is likely to follow suite. This is pending a Competition and Markets Authority investigation into the takeovers, and means that while Bauer can own the stations they can integrate the stations into the group until the takeover has been cleared. This does means that local brands and programmes will continue for a little while longer.
UKRD have launched a new 80s radio station called Pirate 80s. This follows the launch of Eagle 80s, and will share the same syndicate programmes. Pirate 80s carries news and information bulletins specific to Cornwall.
Pirate 80s is available on DAB across Cornwall and parts of Devon, replacing Pirate 70s which moves online only.
Encore Radio, the national station dedicated to fans of musicals, is reducing its DAB coverage to focus on online streams. Herts, Beds, Bucks, Essex and Kent are losing coverage, leaving the station only on the South London & Surrey multiplex.
The station had already briefly joined and left the North Yorkshire DAB multiplex.
The move is another sign of smaller broadcasters struggling to survive on DAB, with stations including BOB FM and Connect FM dropping DAB broadcasts.
In the past few days, it has been announced that Global Radio have acquired Lancashire local radio station 2BR from UKRD. 2BR currently broadcasts in Central and East Lancashire on four FM frequencies, from studios in Hyndburn. The station also broadcasts on Lancashire DAB (64kbps mono), and recently celebrated being on-air for 18 years, having first launched in July 2000. The station has grown since it first launched, with Central FM and The Bee merging into 2BR.
So what does this mean for listeners? Initially, the station will carry on unchanged, but Global has a history of rebranding stations into their national brands of Capital, Heart, and Smooth. As Heart is already available in the area, as Heart North West (formerly Real Radio) and Heart Cumbria and North Lancashire (formerly The Bay), it seems unlikely that 2BR will become Heart. There is a possibility that some or all of 2BR frequencies might be used to plug gaps in the coverage of the existing Heart stations.
Capital, although with a more hit music based format than 2BR, could launch on the frequencies, as Capital is not currently available in the area. Smooth Radio, with a limited coverage of the area may expand it’s coverage area.
Either way, a rebrand is almost certain. Local output will drop to 7 hours weekdays (Breakfast and Drivetime), and 4 hours on Saturdays and Sundays. Most current presenters are likely to leave the station. Significant change is on the cards.
Here are some of the stories from the past two weeks:
Community radio station 88.3 Centreforce has joined DAB in London, broadcasting on the London 2 multiplex, using the newer DAB+ format at 32 kbps.
Encore Radio appears to have left the North Yorkshire DAB multiplex. Reports are conflicting with the Frequency Finder website having first reporting the change, but Wohnort DAB is shows the station to be broadcasting in North Yorkshire. More updates will follow on this story.
Radio Ceredigion, owned by Nation Broadcasting, has reapplied for the license as Nation Radio. The 96.6, 97.4 and 103.3 FM transmitters will be used to fill a gap in Nation Radio’s FM and DAB network, allowing Nation Radio to have near full Wales coverage. Radio Ceredigion achieves 16% reach and a market share of slightly under 5%.
Nation Broadcasting are applying for the Sam FM Bristol license, under the name of Jack FM. A larger report on this development will be published in the next week.
Also at Nation Broadcasting, the role out of the new Sun FM logo has been completed with the launch of the a new website. There have also bee some tweaks to the schedule, presumably relating to the untangling of the station from it’s former owners UKRD.
Original 106 has been given permission to change its music format, by dropping the requirement to play album tracks. It has been suggested, however, that the station will continue to play album tracks and classic rock music.
All 39 BBC local radio stations are joining Local Radio Day, which takes place on the 25th May. The stations join a growing number of local commercial and community radio stations, in an initiative led by the small group UKRD.
Local Radio Day is now in its third year, with more than 80 radio stations taking part last year.
For more info see www.localradioday.co.uk/.
Local commercial radio station Sun FM, covering Sunderland and Wearside, has been acquired by Nation Broadcasting. Nation Broadcasting own Nation Radio, and some local stations in Wales. Sun FM was previously owned by UKRD, who own a number of small local radio stations across England.
The follows a period of expansion by Nation Broadcasting, who recently acquired the yet to launch Rock Radio in Scotland.
UKRD station Eagle 80s launches later today at 11am. This service will be available on DAB+ in Surrey and North Sussex, and replaces Eagle 3.
As this station is using DAB+, not all DAB radio’s will receive it. To see if your radio is DAB+ compatible, look for a DAB+ logo, or the digital tick mark on the radio or the box it came in. If your radio recieves Forces Radio BFBS or Fun Kids, it is DAB+ capable and will receive Eagle 80s.
More information can be found at: www.eagleradio.co.uk/news/local-news/2554984/eagle-80s-launches-in-surrey-and-hampshire/
Sun FM are celebrating 20 years of the Simon Grundy Breakfast Show with a night at the Roker Hotel on Friday 11th May from 7pm to 12am – with special guests We Love the 90’s.
Tickets are on sale at https://www.sun-fm.com/shop/vouchers/i/sun-fm-party-at-the-roker/, for £10 inlcuding a welcome drink and buffet.
Last year Sun FM celebrated another major milestone, 20 years of broadcasting. The station launched as Sun FM in 1997, and broadcasts on 103.4 FM to Sunderland and the surrounding areas.