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Minister gives green light to sale of Denis O'Brien's Communicorp to Bauer Media

The Communicorp sale to Bauer Media is understood to be worth more than €100m.

Newstalk is home to broadcast veteran Pat Kenny.
Newstalk is home to broadcast veteran Pat Kenny.
Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

THE WAY HAS been cleared by Government for the sale of the company that owns Newstalk and Today FM to Bauer Media.

Communicorp Group, owned by Denis O’Brien, said today that Catherine Martin, Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media has given her blessing to the transaction.

In a statement the company said that the sale will likely conclude at the end of the month.

“Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Catherine Martin TD has confirmed that following an initial media merger examination, the proposed acquisition of Communicorp Group by Bauer Media Audio Holdings GmbH can proceed as it is not contrary to the public interest in protecting the plurality of media in the state.

“The confirmation from Minister Martin completes all phases of required regulatory approval and follows approvals from The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland and The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission. It is anticipated that the acquisition will complete on May 31st, 2021,” the company said.

The Department confirmed the Minister’s clearance for the purchase.  

“On Wednesday 12 May, Minister Catherine Martin determined that the proposed acquisition by Bauer Media of Communicorp Group Media would not be contrary to the public interest in protecting media plurality in the State and that it should be allowed to proceed,” a statement said. 

The deal is understood to be in excess of €100m. Communicorp operates national radio stations Newstalk and Today FM, along with local broadcast outlets Spin 1038, 98FM and Spin Southwest.

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Bauer Media is a major presence in the audio business across seven countries – it’s radio output is focused mainly on music.

According to the latest JNLR listenership figures released last November, Today FM enjoyed its highest-ever market share last year with 877,000 people tuning in weekly, 100,000 more than its RTÉ rival 2FM.

Current affairs programming has been a particular hit with listeners and, accordingly, Newstalk has reaped the benefits.

After RTÉ Radio One, Newstalk cemented its status as the second-most listened-to station in the country with 477,000 people tuning in on a daily basis and an all-time high weekly reach of 804,000, up 62,000 from last year.

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