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Who's getting UTV then?

By James Martin
Posted 9 January 2015, 2.37pm est
UTV
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There's reports then that UTV Radio could be put up for sale. I'm really surprised to see them exit radio - I thought they'd have sold off the TV side of things to ITV Plc instead.

I'm thinking Orion or Communicorp for the big ones and UKRD for the small ones.

Comments

2 years, 8 months ago

If UTV are giving this serious thought, then it's a mistake, a huge mistake. They have a number of radio stations in Ireland, and they're not considering selling those as I understand it, just the ones in England & Wales. Also, holding TalkSport on it's own isn't really a good strategy. Heck, putting a national version of Juice onto Digital 2 when it's launched would be a better strategic move.

Now, if they go ahead and make the mistake, then Orion, UKRD or Celador, I would say are most likely to go for these stations and get them. I can imagine UKRD might get Pulse, Signal & 96.4 The Wave, with Orion getting most of the others, and Celador maybe picking up Swansea Sound.

But, seriously, UTV should shoot the rumour down completely. It shouldn't even be considering a sale.

2 years, 8 months ago

Why's that then, Ian?

And how come you've got such a better understanding of what UTV's corporate strategy should be than UTV?

2 years, 8 months ago

Michael Cook...

Why's that then, Ian?

You mean, why is it a mistake? The simple answer is, opportunity.

There is a lot of empty space out there on many local DAB multiplexes, just waiting for stations to fill them up. So far, though, we have yet to see any commercial radio companies launch stations in new areas that they don't already have a presence in.

Digital 2 is also incoming, and though national, there will be opportunities for new stations there too.

And a little further ahead, will be the small scale DAB multiplexes, and a lot more space available to broadcasters.

If anything, pulling back from local radio now, will look like admitting defeat on buying a ticket to the big party, just before a whole load more are released, and with some still on sale. It makes no sense.

And how come you've got such a better understanding of what UTV's corporate strategy should be than UTV?

It's called having an opinion, and not just blindly and blithely accepting that the people who run business are infallible. Business owners are human beings and they can make mistakes too. The good ones learn from those mistakes. The bad ones just seem doomed to repeat them, no matter how much the evidence points in a different direction.

2 years, 8 months ago

You don't think they might have rather better evidence about the costs, opportunities, profitability of their stations and radio (and TV) markets of all sizes, local, national and international than you?

2 years, 8 months ago

They can have all the information in the world and it still doesn't mean they will make the right decision. Too often, people hold views that are not backed up by the evidence, and make decisions based on those views only, and you get very irrational decisions as a result.

I look at things using the Sherlock Holmes methodologies, and I see a lot of opportunities out there for UTV, if they choose to exploit them. They even have three good potential brands already in their stable if they were to exploit them. Juice FM, The Pulse & Signal. I can't see any other reason for cutting back, other than short-sighted, quarter-to-quarter worries and fears, which is not being clear and present in the moment. Considering they've just taken the big risk of launching UTV Ireland, it's not surprising that they're worrying, but they should concentrate on just doing what they should be doing, and being clear and present in the moment, and that's what they should be focusing on, not worrying unnecessarily about what stations they should sell to protect their investment in the new UTV Ireland.

2 years, 8 months ago

I look at things using the Sherlock Holmes methodologies,

A brilliant answer which I will be using as often as possible in the future.

2 years, 8 months ago

A brilliant answer which I will be using as often as possible in the future.

But you won't be using the methodologies, will you?

2 years, 8 months ago

Businesses making right decisions?

JJB Sports? Hoover? Ratners? TESCO?

2 years, 8 months ago

Like I said, I'm surprised UTV aren't looking at expanding the UK radio division. Quidem, who seem to have really lost their way since Ben Day left, would be an ideal fit onto Signal 107 and Peak 107. Same with Lincs' stations.

I think we need a major player looking after the small stations, and at the moment that title is sort-of split between UKRD and Celador. Hyper-local stations CAN be viable, but I think you need a very significant economy of scale in order to do that. Combining UTV, Quidem and Lincs would give a huge patch of hyper-local stations from North Oxfordshire upwards.

2 years, 8 months ago

Something mentioned elsewhere is that any buyer of UTV Radio would also inherit a couple of possible great names to roll out as a brand, such as Signal, Pulse or Wave. There is, sadly, also the possibility for cost-saving; networking of daytimes for example is something that doesn't currently happen and there's no reason why it can't within the current rules. I imagine there's also a few opportunities for station mergers. If they DO go to UKRD, would they keep the networking and roll it back out to their existing porfolio? If current policy continues, it could mean network presenters out of a job instead; anoraks may celebrate any death of networking but it still means somebody loses their job.

They're very good sounding stations and I hope job losses are minimal.

PRO2 years, 8 months ago

UTV's radio stations with the exception of talkSPORT are in two groups. One is a group of heritage stations, Pulse,The Wave/Swansea Sound and Signal which are likely to be the stations which are of most interest in markets where they're the dominant player.

The rest are a mix of small scale sallies in which they wouldn't be viable without being part of a large group with the possible exception of Juice Liverpool with it's niche format.

Ideally UTV would sell the heritage stations to one group, with the rest going to a UKRD type group who can keep those small scale stations live and local, yet automate it during evenings and weekends.

I would also add that Radio Wave in Blackpool could merge with The Bee to expand UKRD's Central Lancs brand, yet they've also kept 2BR separate despite sharing a PD and facilities with The Bee.

2 years, 8 months ago

I could see Communicorp taking those stations on, introducing Global's brands where appropriate.

Certainly turning Signal into Heart would fill a massive gap in coverage bewteen West Midlands and North West. Not sure Pulse 1 can be converted to Heart, I imagine it would have to at least take the "legacy One Network" playlist in local hours. One assumes Pulse 2 and Signal 2 would become Smooth. Juice Liverpool could possibly become Capital - it's a small station but there's enough collateral around the rest of Communicorp to keep it afloat.

UKRD could then take on the rest of the network.

2 years, 8 months ago

Blonde question RE the above (sorry, can't see a way to edit) - if the above did happen, would any Smooths on AM which were owned by Communicorp have to have some separate programming to the Global-owned ones, in the way the FM side reverted to regional peaktime shows when it split across two owners?

2 years, 8 months ago

James, selling stations to Communicorp would be tantamount to selling them to Global. Plus, you'd lose the use of Signal and Pulse, which could work brilliantly as brands. UKRD would be the best bet if UTV was to sell those stations. But again, given how DAB is expanding and there is plenty of space on many local multiplexes, I don't think they should be selling.

2 years, 8 months ago

Yes, however that's the general idea of Communicorp Ian. It's Global except for who sends out the invoice for Dave's Fish & Chip Shop.

You may not agree with the principle, but the competition concerns are over the slices of the advertising pie, not the actual output. FWIW, I think the regs can do more harm than good - I don't think, for example, that it's helped the East Midlands to lose Heart or the West Midlands to lose Gold.

Also, if a different buyer got Signal 107, there's no reason that owner couldn't still roll the Signal brand out to their network. Though in a big/small Communicorp/UKRD split, it would make more sense for Quidem to pick up Signal 107 (possibly bringing it into their We Never Grew Up network (how much does it overlap with Heart and Smooth WM?) as it wouldn't geographically attatch to anything else.

2 years, 8 months ago

Signal 107 overlaps with Heart/Smooth from its Wolverhampton, Telford and Kidderminster transmitters. The Shrewsbury and Oswestry transmitters are outside the Heart/Smooth TSA.

PRO2 years, 8 months ago

Pulse would be an issue for Communicorp UK if they acquired it as a bulk sale with Signal and The Wave.

Heart and Capital are within Pulse's TSA, so you're left with either going it alone as they've done with Real XS or going to Ofcom to change the format of the FM station so they can put a Smooth franchise on it. They could of course simulcast Smooth on AM if they keep to the current format. News can also come from Leeds to cut costs.

2 years, 8 months ago

Sorry - crrection to above re: Signal 107. Wolverhampton, Telford and Kiddy are all in Heart/Smooth WM TSA. Oswestry is in Heart North Wales TSA. Shrewsbury is the only one of its areas not also covered officially by a local Global brand.

2 years, 8 months ago

Not much they can do there then. I certainly don't think they'd get permission to Smooth it. I thought Pulse was slightly out of Heart's TSA, which is considerably smaller than Capital's.

2 years, 8 months ago

Scrap that - I've just checked. It's right inside it.

2 years, 8 months ago

Didn't see your post Phil as we were simultaneous - doing a quick check on the RAB map, it attaches on to the Quidem network nicely, so if Communicorp did get the big ones, the Northern little ones could go to UTV and Signal 107 could go to Quidem. The whole point of Quidem's "Never Grew Up" brand is it's designed to work in areas covered by Heart (or Gem in Oak's case) and Smooth, since their mainline network is positioned somewhere inbetween Global's two AC brands.

2 years, 7 months ago

Its very interesting as UTV I think now are thinking more of investing in its national talksport and Ireland TV station. But this will be an interesting watch to see what happens but don't global have enough stations in those areas already?

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