Global Radio’s GMG Buyout Will Hurt Competition, Regulator Says

Global Radio Group Ltd.’s completed acquisition of GMG Radio Holdings Ltd. could lead to higher prices for advertisers in seven areas of Britain, the U.K.’s Competition Commission said in a provisional decision.

In areas where the companies overlap and compete, advertisers that buy airtime through non-contracted agencies “on a campaign-by-campaign basis” may see an increase in costs for ads, sponsorships and promotional activity, the regulator said today in a statement on its website.

For those who buy through contracted agencies and for national campaigns, there “would not be significantly adversely affected,” the Competition Commission said. London won’t be affected, it said.

Global Radio, owner of Britain’s Classic FM station, purchased GMG Radio, which operates several stations across the U.K. under the Real or Smooth brand, in June. It didn’t disclose the price it paid to Guardian Media Group.

“As provisional findings, these do not represent the CC’s final report, and as such, it would not be appropriate to comment,” Global Radio said in a statement on its website.

Maria Miller, the U.K.’s culture secretary, decided in October that the deal shouldn’t be reviewed on media plurality grounds and should be treated as an ordinary merger. Her predecessor, Jeremy Hunt, previously ordered the agency and media regulator Ofcom to examine whether the deal was in the public interest.

To contact the reporter on this story: Erik Larson in London at elarson4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net

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