Warning over higher radio ad fees in Wolverhampton
A merger inquiry has found that advertisers could face higher prices for radio ads in Wolverhampton following a recent series of takeovers.
The Competition and Markets Authority is investigating Bauer Media’s completed takeover of some radio businesses of Celador Entertainment, Lincs FM Group and The Wireless Group along with the entire business of UKRD Group.
Bauer, which already owned Free Radio Wolverhampton, the Black Country and Shropshire – the former Beacon station – now also owns the Wolverhampton-based Signal 107 station, which was part of The Wireless Group.
The provisional findings of the merger inquiry are that Bauer Media’s series of takeovers raises competition concerns about local radio advertising.
As part of an in-depth second phase investigation led by an independent group of panel members, the CMA is also concerned about how these transactions could affect the future viability of First Radio Sales, a firm that currently provides more than 100 independent local radio stations with sales representation to national advertisers.
If FRS were to shut down, local radio stations would have to seek sales representation from Bauer or Global – the largest commercial radio group in the UK – leaving local radio stations with little choice when trying to sell national radio advertising airtime and potentially leading to them paying higher commission rates.
The CMA also found that, as a result of Bauer buying Signal 107 – created in 2012 from former stations The Wolf, Telford FM, The Severn and The Wyre – it now owns the only two stations which can offer local advertising specifically targeted at the Wolverhampton area. This lack of choice could result in advertisers wishing to promote their products to a Wolverhampton audience facing higher prices for ad slots.
The CMA is asking for views on its provisional findings by January 6 and will assess all evidence provided before making a final decision.
The statutory deadline for the CMA’s final report is March 17.