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Denis O'Brien's Communicorp - which operates Today FM and Newstalk - to be sold to Bauer Media Group

Bauer Media Audio operates radio stations in seven countries across Europe.

File photo. Pat Kenny hosts a morning show during the week on Newstalk.
File photo. Pat Kenny hosts a morning show during the week on Newstalk.
Image: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

Updated Feb 25th 2021, 11:59 AM

THE COMMUNICORP GROUP – which runs radio stations such as Today FM and Newstalk – is to be sold to European company Bauer Media Audio.

The company, which has radio stations in seven countries including the likes of Kiss and Magic in the UK, will acquire Communicorp’s weekly audience of more than 1.75 million in the deal. 

The agreement is subject to regulatory approval. The agreed price has not been disclosed.

Staff at the Denis O’Brien-owned Communicorp group were informed of the takeover this morning. 

The group also runs local stations Spin 1038 and 98FM in Dublin and Spin Southwest in Limerick alongside digital radio sport station Off The Ball. 

Paul Keenan, president of Bauer Media Audio, said: “Radio is very popular in Ireland with more than 80% of the population tuning in every week. The industry makes a vital and much-valued contribution to the country’s rich cultural landscape.”

He added that he was looking forward to working with Communicorp CEO Simon Myciunka and his team. 

Speaking this morning about the move on RTÉ’s Today with Claire Byrne, Arts Minister Catherine Martin said the takeover would have to go through “the usual regulatory processes” involving the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission.

“If it’s cleared by that it comes to my desk for review from a media plurality perspective. That is the role that I have in terms of protecting the plurality of Irish media,” she said.

“Any media companies involved in mergers have to seek clearance from the minister on the grounds for assessment that it won’t damage media diversity. There’s a statutory process in place where we’ll assess submissions on those grounds, it would be inappropriate for me to comment any further.”

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Industry sources believe the move will be positive for the Irish radio landscape.

Speaking on the News at One on RTÉ Radio this afternoon, iRadio chairman Willie O’Reilly said he believes Bauer will be a “good cultural fit” for the Communicorp stations.

“I think what is important for a purchaser is that they understand our culture, they respect our regulations, and they look after their staff. If they do that, they will be successful here,” O’Reilly, who served as chief executive of Today FM until 2012, said this afternoon.

“I think there’s a little bit of work to be done by Bauer, but they’re smart people, they’ll know how to set about it.”

- With reporting by Rónán Duffy and Ian Curran

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Sean Murray

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