The ceo of the UK's biggest commercial radio company says he underestimated the downturn in advertising when the business was created through a high-profile merger.

Ralph Bernard, speaking to The Times newspaper on the first anniversary of GCap Media -the result of a union between GWR and Capital Radio [WAMN: 10-May-05] - said: "It's been a tough year and we have been upfront in our comments that we did underestimate some of the challenges the merger would bring."

The group announced a 17% drop in revenues in the first three months of this year and last month parted company with both Keith Pringle, managing director of the flagship London station Capital 95.8, and program director Nik Goodman. Bernard has admitted the station is in "intensive care".

He has also made it clear he would not pay for any more marketing until he was happy with the health of the broadcaster.

Integration following the merger has taken far longer than any industry observer or rival operator anticipated. Few doubt that the deal should have gone ahead, although some insiders question why the group failed to address its problems for so long.

Data sourced from The Times Online (UK); additional content by WARC staff