Bauer's NE radio stations in sudden merger

Bauer Media's two local stations serving the North East are being merged. From Monday, Metro Radio in and around Newcastle and TFM in Teesside will share the same presenters and programming, broadcasting from Newcastle. News, local travel and adverts are expected to remain separate.

Both stations will continue with separate on-air branding and will continue on existing FM and DAB digital radio frequencies. The move is permitted under Ofcom rules, which allow for stations within Ofcom- defined regions to merge without any consultation.

The move follows Global Radio's similar actions in the East Midlands, prior to the launch of Capital East Midlands in January 2011. There, Derby's Ram FM was moved to Trent FM's building in Nottingham, although unlike Metro/TFM, separate breakfast and drive shows did continue until Capital replaced the local stations. Last year, Global Radio merged newly-acquired Atlantic FM with its Heart Devon station.

Ofcom rules have been relaxed over the years allowing local stations to become regional, and regional services to become pseudo-national.

The sudden merger came as a surprise, even to some in the radio industry, with local rival station Star already launching a campaign to get Teesside listeners to switch away from the now Newcastle based TFM.
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