New culture secretary Maria Miller has concluded the deal should not be passed to the Competition Commission to assess plurality issues. The Competition Commission will now consider the deal on competition grounds only.
Miller’s predecessor Jeremy Hunt had asked broadcasting regulator Ofcom to provide evidence on whether the deal, agreed in June , was in the “public interest”.
Rivals such as Bauer Radio had argued a merger between the first and third biggest commercial radio stations would reduce the amount of local news and interest programming. Bauer, which owns the Magic and Kiss brands, had also bid for Smooth and Real Radio owner GMG.
Of particular concern was South Wales, where the takeover would have left Global with about 70% of the commercial radio market. Global, which owns the Capital, Heart and Classic FM national networks, has agreed to provide an enhanced local news service in the area.
A spokeswoman for Global welcomed the decision, claiming the planned “enhanced” service would be of ”enormous value to the people of Wales” and “deepen and strengthen plurality”.
The Competition Commission will now assess whether the deal provides Global with too greater dominance of commercial radio, in particular its share of advertising revenue.