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New owner of Today FM and Newstalk says it will be ‘business as usual’

The European media group buying Denis O’Brien’s Communicorp says that it will not be making any quick changes.

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Bauer Media Audio president Paul Keenan

Bauer Media Audio president Paul Keenan

Bauer Media Audio president Paul Keenan

Bauer Media Audio says it will be “business as usual” for Today FM, Newstalk and the rest of Communicorp if its acquisition of Denis O’Brien’s media group goes through.

However, Bauer communications director Cat Martin told Independent.ie that the reported price tag of €100m was “speculation”.

Earlier, Bauer Media Audio president Paul Keenan said that the German-owned European media group was “looking forward to working with Communicorp CEO Simon Myciunka and his talented team”.

Bauer owns dozens of radio stations and magazines across the UK and Europe, including Cool FM, Kiss, Kerrang, Grazia and Empire.

In the past two years, it has launched over 10 new digital-only radio stations, mostly sub-brands of existing stations such as Kiss and Kerrang.

It has also been active in pushing its own digital ad network.

Bauer’s move for Denis O’Brien’s Communicorp comes amid mixed fortunes for radio stations in Ireland. While listenership has been strong, revenues have shrunk due to competition from online platforms and podcasting.

The most recent accounts for Communicorp show that while total group revenue for the year of 2019 was up 4pc to €43.8m and a profit of €1.6m was achieved, the pandemic had badly hit advertising revenue, which was down more 30pc in the second quarter of 2020.

On the other hand, Communicorp has found some new ways to expand its reach and revenue. Its Off The Ball unit now operates across several digital platforms as a standalone sports media franchise, selling packages and sponsorships to advertisers.

Recent research from the marketing group Core found that over a million people in Ireland listen to online streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music, denting the amount of time available for radio.

This contrasts with the most recent radio industry-funded Joint National Listenership Report (JNLR), which claims that over 80pc of Irish people still listen to radio every day. The JNLR also claims that almost twice as many 15-24 year olds listen to radio as Spotify on a daily basis.

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