GMG Radio calls in advisers over DAB

The Guardian Media Group has called in consultants to help look at the future and growth of digital audio broadcasting (DAB). GMG Radio, which includes the Smooth Radio network, has appointed Oliver & Ohlbaum Associates to offer strategic advice on the matter.

The appointment of O&O confirms GMG Radio chief executive John Myers’ (pictured) commitment to the platform. He has been a vocal supporter of DAB since GCap announced earlier this year that it did not see any future for DAB. GMG, which operates 13 analogue radio stations and 24 digital services, includes the Smooth, Real, Century and Rock brands. It has invested £2m in DAB.

But some analysts see the appointment of the strategic consultants as a “full-blown” review of the business, with a view to selling off the business. Analysts suggest that GMG Radio is specifically seeking to sell its radio business to Bauer. However, an insider says the consultants have been called in to “organise the portfolio better”.

Myers confirms that O&O is looking at the future of DAB for GMG Radio but adds: “We have invested heavily in our brands and it is rubbish to even suggest that GMG might be considering selling off the radio division.”

Earlier this year the radio division reported profits, excluding exceptional items, to be down from £3.5m in 2007 to £100,000. The fall at the time was attributed to high levels of brand investment, the cost of integrating the Saga stations acquired in February 2007 and a weak national ad market.

Bauer Radio owns Smooth rival Magic 105.4 in London.

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