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UTV considering local radio sale?

UTV Media is considering selling some or all of its local radio stations in the UK, in an announcement made just over a week after it expanded its presence in the Republic of Ireland through a new TV channel.

The company owns national commercial radio station TalkSPORT, has interests in DAB digital radio, operating or jointly operating local DAB multiplexes in several areas and is part of a consortium bidding for the Digital 2 national DAB multiplex licence. But in recent months, the company has been throwing a lot of its resources into its Irish operations and national station TalkSPORT.

In a statement, the company said: "The Directors of UTV continue to manage the overall group in the best interest of its shareholders and confirm that UTV is currently assessing the options for its UK independent local radio stations which may or may not lead to the disposal of some or all of these stations. For the avoidance of doubt, any disposal would not include talkSPORT, Sport Magazine, talkSPORT International or any of UTV's Irish radio stations.

"A further announcement will be made in due course, as appropriate."

UTV local radio stations include various Signal branded stations in Stoke and the West Midlands, Peak FM in Derbyshire, Juice in Liverpool, The Wave in Swansea and Pulse in West Yorkshire. While Signal in Stoke faces relatively little competition from other commercial radio stations thanks to its position in the 'mush-zone' between radio transmitters in the Midlands and the North West, many of its other stations face stiff competition from rival companies.

The stations may be of interest to rivals including Bauer Media and UKRD. Global Radio, who already had to shed direct legal control over regional stations in Wales, the Midlands and Northern England due to competition concerns would likely face further regulatory hurdles if it bid for the stations.


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