Global lose Competition Commission appeal over Real and Smooth Radio acquisitions

December 2013



Broadcaster Global Radio has in its bid to appeal a Competition Commission ruling on its acquisition of the Real and Smooth Radio networks. Global bought the Real and Smooth stations from the Guardian Media Group last year for £70 million, but various parties raised concerns about the dominance the transaction gave Global in the radio advertising domain in certain localities.  In its final report on the deal, the CC concluded that the merger is likely to cause higher prices for advertising in the UK regions earmarked for divestment. Responding to those concerns the Competition Commission told Global that they would have to sell off more of the Real and Smooth outlets than they’d be allowed to keep – or offload existing Global-owned stations in the regions where the Commission shared market dominance concerns). Global argued that the rules being used to block their Real Smooth deal are outdated, and ignore wider competition in the modern advertising market and that the competition regulator did not take reasonable steps to “acquaint itself” with information relevant to the Real Smooth deal, that it lacked evidence in some regions as to how local advertisers made buying decisions, and that it didn’t do sufficient research to prove the deal would result in a “substantial” lessening of competition. The Competition Appeal Tribunal has now said it did not accept Global’s arguments against the Commission’s original ruling.  The decision stands but Global have said they will explore their options. A Global spokesperson said: “Obviously this is a disappointing outcome. We share the concerns of many within our industry, who believe the basis on which the Competition Commission formed their decision to be outdated.”

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