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GCap Media
Type Defunct
Founded 2005
Headquarters London
Key people Ralph Bernard (2005-7),
Steve Orchard (2005-8),
Fru Hazlitt (2007-8),
David Mansfield (2005),
Ashley Tabor (2008)
Industry Media
Products Broadcasting
Parent Global Radio
Website www.thisisglobal.com

GCap Media was a British commercial radio company formed from the merger of the Capital Radio Group and GWR Group. The merger was completed in May 2005. It was listed on the London Stock Exchange and was a constituent of the FTSE 250 Index. On 31 March 2008 the company agreed a takeover by Global Radio for £375 million [1]. This was completed on 6 June 2008, and the company became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Global Radio.[2]

On November 1 2008, Global Radio discontinued using the name GCap Media.[3]

Contents

Pre-merger

Capital Radio Group

Capital Radio Group was, until May 2005, a London-based British radio group. The company was originally set up to operate a General Entertainment Independent Local Radio service in October 1973. Capital Radio was the second legal commercial radio station to launch in the UK, a few days after London news station LBC. In the 1980s the station was allowed to operate separate services on AM and FM.

Changes to media ownership laws meant that Capital Radio Group was able to acquire other stations throughout the UK, becoming a powerful player in the UK's commercial radio industry; before the merger with GWR. In 1993, Capital bought BRMB, and in 1994 the Southern Radio Group (Southern FM, Invicta FM and Power FM). Fox FM in Oxfordshire and Red Dragon FM in Wales were also purchased in the 90s. Capital also acquired the Century FM stations in 2000 as well as Border Television in order to acquire its radio stations (subsequently selling the station to Granada plc a year later). All in all, Capital Radio Group controlled 22 analogue and 59 digital radio licences. In July 1998 Capital Radio Group bought the financially troubled "alternative" radio station, XFM.

In the early 21st century, Capital Radio Group expanded its range of FM stations, and also started broadcasting digital-only stations such as Capital Disney and Capital Life.

GWR Group

GWR Group was a British radio company with major assets including the nationwide station Classic FM and an extensive network of independent local radio stations in the UK.

Between 1996 and 1999 GWR was a major shareholder in London News Radio, which owned and operated London's LBC and News Direct radio stations. These stations were sold to Chrysalis Radio in 2002.

GWR was owned by Daily Mail and General Trust plc (majority share), various asset management firms, Sir Peter Michael and other small shareholders. Until the merger, the group was chaired by Ralph Bernard and its head office was in Passage Street, Bristol.

During its existence, GWR acquired the Marcher Radio Group, Mid Anglia Radio Group, Chiltern Radio Group and East Anglian Radio Group to name but a few.[4]

Key Dates

1981: Wiltshire Radio is founded. 1982: Wiltshire Radio begins broadcasting. 1985: Wiltshire Radio merges with Radio West to form GWR. 1987: GWR Group goes public. 1988: GWR joins Classic FM partnership. 1992: Classic FM begins broadcasting. 1996: GWR acquires full control of Classic FM. 1998: GWR wins Digital One license. 1999: Digital One begins broadcasting; launches Internet radio broadcasts. 2000: GWR acquires DMG Radio.

Programming

GWR attempted to revolutionise local radio with its policy of branding its stations with similar phrases, initially "today's better music mix", later "today's best mix" and "the best mix of the 80s, 90s and today." This allowed it to syndicate a number of programmes across its network of radio stations. It had four main syndicated programmes: a weekday mid-morning programme hosted by Phillippa Collins, a weeknightly music and showbiz based programme (formerly called 'Music Control') (weekdays 7pm to 10pm) presented by Kevin Hughes, 'The Wind Down' (Sunday to Thursday 10pm to 1am) presented by Cat James and Music On Demand (1am till Breakfast, 7 days a week) presented by Dan Wood or Andy Henley. On Friday and Saturday evenings the network splits, with most stations taking Non-Stop Party (Friday 10pm to 1am) and Party Anthems (Saturday 7pm to 10pm) while the other stations take School Daze (Friday 10pm to 1am) and Hairbrush Divas (Saturday 7pm to 10pm). All stations then take a Non-Stop Party show (Saturday 10pm to 1am).

GCap - The merged company

The two groups officially "tied the knot" in 26 May 2005, with GCap employees being given branded 'GCap' digital radios to commemorate the launch. For the first five months the group was run by Ralph Bernard (ex-GWR) as Executive Chairman, and David Mansfield (ex-Capital Radio Group) as CEO. David Mansfield stepped down on the afternoon of 19 September 2005 with Ralph Bernard taking over both roles. Within weeks of the merger rumours had abounded about disagreements between Bernard and Mansfield about the future direction of the company and this was compounded by a £184 m loss in the stock market capitalisation of the two combined entities by the time merger was sealed. Many market commentators felt that the savings brought about by cost cutting and elimination of duplicated departments across the company were far outweighed by large drops in audience and advertising revenue across the newly formed group. Over the following months, amid rumours of a GWR putsch and continuing dissatisfaction from the City, a stream of executives from the former Capital Radio Group side of the business left the company, including David Mansfield himself.

Restructure and the 'failed sale'

In October 2005 GCap Media announced around 100 job losses and the sale of nine non-core radio stations as part of a restructuring initiative. By this time, over £300m had been wiped off the market capitalisation of GCap Media and the group was frequently touted as a take over target by City commentators. The nine stations, which included the Marcher Group stations in North Wales and Orchard FM in the West Country, came with a price tag of £75m. Eventually, after bids as low as £25m were placed and interest waned, GCap Media called off the sale.

Classic Gold acquisition

In April 2007 GCap Media announced that it was acquiring 18 AM and DAB 'Classic Gold' radio stations from Unique Broadcasting Company Media Group. Many of these licences had formerly been operated by GWR Group before being sold to Unique. It was announced that the stations would be merged with existing Capital Gold AM licences to form a new station Gold, which launched on 3 August 2007.

Withdrawal from DAB and disposal of "non-core" stations

In late December 2007 Fru Hazlitt was appointed CEO. Under pressure from a £313m share offer to the board from Global Radio, Hazlitt laid out her plans for the company's recovery to financial health on 11 February 2008. Cost-cutting lay at the heart of Hazlitt's statement, including divesting GCap of its costly involvement in DAB - directly turning her back on the 'digital future' policy of her predecessor. It was announced that GCap had sold its interest in Digital One to Arqiva and that "non-core" DAB stations Planet Rock and theJazz would be closing by the end of March 2008. theJazz ceased broadcasting as announced, but Planet Rock remained on air while negotiations took place with potential buyers, which were successfully concluded in June 2008. In addition, the non-London xfm stations would also be closed if they could not be sold, as the stations were forecast to make a combined loss of £800,000 in 2008 [1]. An improved offer from Global was finally accepted by GCap shareholders, resulting in the departure of the group's senior management. Fru Hazlitt resigned in May 2008.

Takeover by Global Radio

The Office of Fair Trading conducted an investigation into the takeover of GCap by Global and cleared it in August 2008 [5], on the condition that BRMB, Beacon Radio, Mercia FM, Wyvern FM and Heart East Midlands were sold to satisfy competition concerns. Global later confirmed that it would rebrand Xfm Scotland and Power FM as Galaxy Radio stations [6].

On September 16 2008 Global announced that it will rebrand the majority of the remaining GCap media local stations as Heart, (with the majority of the programming produced and networked from London) [7] with only a selection of stations in South Wales, The South East and the East Midlands keeping their heritage names. [8].

On September 23 2008, it was announced that Fun Radio had been sold to Folder Media, leaving Chill as GCap's only digital station.[9].

Stations owned by GCap Media

National radio stations

XFM stations

The Hit Music Network

AM Local Radio Stations

  • Gold — quasi-national network, broadcasting in the following areas:

Birmingham (AM & DAB), Black Country (AM & DAB), Bournemouth (AM & DAB), Bristol & Bath (AM & DAB), Cambridge (DAB), Cardiff & Newport (AM & DAB), Coventry (AM & DAB), Derby (AM), Essex (AM & DAB), Exeter & Torbay (DAB), Gloucester & Cheltenham (AM), Greater London (AM & DAB), Humberside (DAB), Kent (AM & DAB), Lancashire (DAB), Leeds (DAB), Luton & Bedford (AM), Manchester (AM & DAB), Norfolk & North Suffolk (AM & DAB), Northamptonshire (AM), Nottingham (AM & DAB), Peterborough (AM & DAB), Plymouth (AM & DAB), Reading (AM & DAB), Reigate & Crawley (AM), Shropshire (AM), South Hampshire (AM & DAB), South Yorkshire (DAB), Suffolk (AM), Sussex (AM & DAB), Swindon & Wiltshire (AM), Teeside (DAB), Tyne & Wear (DAB), Wrexham & Chester (AM).

Digital-only stations

  • Chill — National Digital Station also on Sky and Virgin Media.

Internet Television stations

Former stations

See also

References

External links


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