Bauer’s application to put City 2 on FM and downgrade the Talk station to AM makes good commercial sense. That does not make it right.
The talk station they launched in 2006 has been nothing short of a disaster from day one and they’ve been trying to change it to something else ever since. If this latest move is approved, it will be the fourth format and the third change in just nine years.
The drive for change comes from competition.
Global’s Smooth Radio (formerly Jazz fm) is a giant in the North West, raking in cash and listeners galore. It’s the Apple of radio up there. This, and their recent acquisition of Juice FM (soon to be Capital FM) turns the screw even more against Bauer.
It’s easy to see therefore why they’d want to move City 2 to FM as it will offer more protection commercially. The fight is about music radio.
If any further evidence is needed, Bauer have just announced that they are to drop live football coverage from next season, something they have carried since 1974. This will not win them any new fans especially in a city where sport matters!
For the record, I like the Bauer 2 network. It’s my second favourite station right now but changing platforms is of little benefit to the Liverpool listener. It is already on DAB, a growing popular platform and something that Bauer claims to be the future.
This is nothing more than a way of commercially making sure they have all their guns focused on protecting revenue. It has absolutely nothing to do with extending listener choice.
Can you imagine the outcry if Global suggested dropping LBC to AM across London just so they could put Heart Extra on FM? It would never be allowed and it should not be allowed here.
Having said all that, if I were Bauer and faced with losing my Liverpool crown, I would probably try the same thing.
As I said in my blog last weekend
Anyone who thinks commercial radio will fill the gap in a diminished BBC is either drunk or deluded.