Real Radio offers concessions to plurality concerns on Global deal

Real and Smooth Limited has offered to provide more regional and local news in north and mid Wales to prevent its merger with Global Radio from being referred to the Competition Commission on plurality grounds.

Maria Miller: secretary of state for culture, media and sport
Maria Miller: secretary of state for culture, media and sport

Real and Smooth has offered a range of provisions,including basing a Welsh political editor at the Welsh Assembly and providing 20-minute news shows on workdays, to allay plurality concerns about news provision in north and mid Wales

It is understood that in its application of the public interest test of the merger, broadcasting regulator Ofcom highlighted Wales as the only region where it was concerned about the deal affecting plurality.

A spokesman for Ofcom declined to comment on its report on the merger.

The proposed changes suggest Global Radio’s rival Bauer Media has failed in its attempt to get Ofcom to consider plurality issues in a range of regions and to widen the scope of the review beyond news.

Maria Miller, the new culture secretary, will now have to decide whether to accept these undertakings, whether to reject them and refer the deal to the CC on plurality grounds or whether she feels there are no plurality issues.

Whatever Miller decides on plurality the deal is unlikely to escape further investigation as sources expect the OFT’s report to have referred the merger to the CC on competition grounds, as Global Radio requested it to shortly after the deal was announced.

Ofcom and the OFT provided their reports to Miller last Friday (28 September) and it is understood that best practice guidelines suggest an announcement should be made within 10 working days.

Industry sources expect a decision by Friday next week, following the Conservative Party conference.

After Global Radio bought the assets formerly known as GMG Radio in July the then culture secretary Jeremy Hunt intervened in the deal and asked Ofcom to look into the plurality issues it raised.

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