RadioCentre calls for OFT to relax merger rules

Industry body RadioCentre is lobbying the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) to relax the rules on local radio mergers in its current review of regional media takeover regulations.

The trade body, led by chief executive Andrew Harrison (pictured), says that local radio mergers should be considered in the context of local media ownership as a whole, as advertisers now plan pan media-campaigns, so old advertising provision restrictions via medium no longer apply.

It has submitted its views via a full report to the OFT this week, setting out the argument that relaxation would help radio companies to invest in a “digital future”, secure investment in valuable local content and prevent the closure of local radio stations.

Harrison says: “The level of ownership regulation faced by the Commercial Radio sector is out of all proportion to the industry’s size and influence on the advertising market.

“More than ever, we compete in a multi-media world for advertisers’ revenues as well as for consumers’ time; the media mergers regime needs to be updated to reflect the realities of the modern media market,” he adds.

The group is also hoping its OFT submission will influence Ofcom to reassess the requirement for the provision of two commercial and one BBC radio stations in each market in its current review of media ownership rules.

Gloomy predictions have recently been made about the future of commercial radio.

UKRD Group has just tabled a bid for rival commercial radio operator The Local Radio Group valuing to company at £1.24 million.

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