Scottish Media Clans in Merger Discussions

21 December 2000

Following Scottish Media Group’s £109 million purchase earlier this month of a 20.8% stake in Scottish Radio Holdings, the groups’ respective chairmen, Don Cruikshank and Lord Gordon of Strathblane, have met to discuss a possible marriage.

SMG controls Scottish Television, Virgin Radio and Glasgow’s The Herald daily newspaper, while SRH owns radio stations and newspapers in Scotland as well as the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. SRH is also applying for digital radio licenses across England.

The offspring of such a media marriage, if it takes place, would be a Caledonian colossus capable of major expansion throughout Britain and elsewhere. But if and when the banns are called, competition regulators and rivals alike are likely to yell "just cause or impediment".

Current legislation, now under government review [WAMN: 13-Dec-00], would bar SMG from adding SRH’s Scottish radio stations to its existing Scottish Television and Grampian Television assets. However, it is widely expected that the government will liberalise the present rules, leading to a raft of consolidations within the media sector.

Further talks between SMG and SRH are scheduled for January.

News source: The Times (London)