Global Radio

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Global Radio
Industry Media
Founded 2007
Headquarters Leicester Square, London, England, UK
Key people
Ashley Tabor
(Founder/Executive President)
Stephen Miron
(Group Chief Executive)
Charles Allen
Richard Park
(Director of Broadcasting)
Revenue Increase £219.5 million (March 2013)[1]
Increase £37.1 million (March 2013)[1]

Global Radio is a British media company formed in 2007, which owns a large number of radio stations across the country. The company has expanded through a number of acquisitions, including Chrysalis Radio, GCap Media and GMG Radio. Global have followed a strategy of focusing on several existing radio station brands which it had rebranded other stations under, running as partially syndicated networks, with limited locally produced programming.

Global Radio is part of the Global Group, which is also involved in television broadcasting and artist management services.


Global Radio was founded by Ashley Tabor in 2007, with financial backing from his father Michael Tabor,[2] and purchased Chrysalis Radio, where Global took control of the radio brands Heart, Galaxy, LBC and The Arrow. A year later on 31 October 2008 Global Radio officially took control of all GCap Media and its brands. The GCap Media name was dropped at this time. The GCap purchase gave Global the network of FM stations which GCap had operated as The One Network (many of which are now part of the Heart or Capital networks), plus Classic FM, XFM, Capital Xtra, Gold and Chill.

Following the acquisition of GCap Media, Global were required to sell off a number of stations in the Midlands. The stations were bought by Orion Media, headed by Phil Riley, former Chief Executive of Chrysalis Radio.

Heritage local radio stations in areas which were not already served by Heart FM were gradually rebranded and incorporated into a larger Heart Network that covers most of southern England and parts of North Wales. The remaining stations briefly formed The Hit Music Network before being merged with the Galaxy network and Capital London into the Capital network.

On 25 June 2012, Global acquired GMG Radio for a sum thought to be between £50 and £70 million and continued to be run separately whilst a regulatory review was conducted. In May 2013, the Competition Commission ruled that Global would be required to sell seven stations across the network.[3]

The company initially offered to dispose of three stations Real XS in Manchester & Scotland and Gold in the East Midlands[4] to try and prevent the sale of the seven stations mentioned in the ruling. When this failed Global Radio launched an appeal against the decision.[5]

The appeal was based on three grounds: (a) Real and Smooth as alternatives to the Greater Manchester stations, (b) reliance on "significant adverse effects" in the North-West (c) Global's remedy proposal (see above). The appeal was rejected on all grounds and the company must sell the seven stations it was ordered to in the original judgement,[6] Global said they were disappointed with the decision and were considering it further.[7]

On 6 February 2014, it was announced that a number of stations would be sold to the Irish broadcaster Communicorp, with programming generally to be supplied by Global under contract.[8] The deal saw control of Smooth Radio in the North East, the North West and the West Midlands, of Capital in South Wales and Scotland, of Real Radio in North Wales and Yorkshire, and of Real XS in Manchester. Most will stay under their current brands though the Real stations will be renamed Heart and carry the Heart network off-peak programming as provided by Global. Global will retain control of all other stations, relaunching the existing Heart North West and Wales as Capital to allow Real North Wales (under Communicorp) to take on the Heart affiliation. Real XS in Paisley will be retained by Global and join the XFM network; the future branding and direction of Real XS in Manchester, under Communicorp, is unclear at the present time. Most of the Gold stations switched to taking the Smooth London/Network output, with the exception that in areas where Smooth is available on FM (London, Manchester and the East Midlands), a reduced Gold oldies service will remain, run by Global and taking programmes from London as now.

It was announced in June 2015 that Darren Singer would be appointed as Global Radio's Chief Financial Officer.[9]

Radio stations


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A group of stations playing chart music. On 3 January 2011, Capital London, The Hit Music Network and the Galaxy network became part of the nine-station Capital radio network; two former Heart stations became Capital in May 2014. Known as "95 – 106 Capital, The UK’s No.1 Hit Music Station" all stations ID locally as [freq] Capital. Local news hours were extended as part of the agreement to increase programme-sharing, and local advertising will remain locally sold; however, programming outside of local hours originates from Capital's network studios in Leicester Square, London.

Capital Xtra

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An all-urban station based in London, originally named Choice FM. Until Summer 2010 it was sold as part of the Galaxy network for marketing purposes only, but retained its own separate branding and programming. From then on, with Galaxy ultimately absorbed into Capital, Choice sat as its own brand within Global Radio's lineup. On 7 October 2013 Choice FM was rebranded as Capital Xtra and made available nationally via DAB radio.[10]


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Heart is a network of adult-contemporary pop stations which currently broadcasts in numerous areas of England, Wales and central Scotland. The network began with a single regional station in the West Midlands and subsequently a second station in London. The third station, Heart 106 in the East Midlands (previously Century 106) was sold to Orion Media and run as a franchise retaining the Heart name until the start of 2011 where it was rebranded to Gem 106. In 2009 many of the heritage CHR stations which had formed part of the One Network were renamed Heart, as were Ocean and South Hams Radio (which were not part of the One Network). Heart Hertfordshire is owned by Adventure Radio and uses the Heart name and format under licence from Global; Heart South Devon is partly owned by UKRD Group; and Heart stations in North Wales and Yorkshire (both formerly Real Radio licences) are operated by Communicorp; all other Heart stations are wholly Global-owned. All of the Real Radio stations were rebranded as Heart on Tuesday 6 May 2014. Heart is also available on DAB in some areas where there is not a local Heart station on FM; these areas generally receiving Heart Digital, which is a relay of Heart London.

Classic FM

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Classical music station broadcast nationally on FM and DAB; also available on Freesat, Sky, Freeview and Virgin Media. One of three 'Independent National Radio' franchises awarded for fully national transmission, and the only one of these with national FM availability.

Smooth Radio

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Acquired as part of the takeover of Real & Smooth Ltd, Smooth broadcasts a soulful easy listening format aimed at the over 50s on FM in six areas, and from March 2014 in AM in a number of areas previously served by Gold. After taking over Smooth, Global reversed the 'national' format that Smooth had taken in 2010 - whereby a network version of the station was broadcast nationally on DAB with all English FM stations sharing this content - and reintroduced local breakfast and drivetime shows. Two of the Smooth areas had previously been Jazz FM stations, and three had originally been Saga stations; the North-East service launched as Smooth on a licence originally awarded to Saga.


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LBC is a London orientated speech-based station featuring news, opinion and information. Its sister station LBC News offers rolling news during daytime, but now simulcasts LBC's FM content overnight. Its presenters on the FM station include Nick Ferrari, Steve Allen, Iain Dale, Ken Livingstone, David Mellor, Clive Bull, Petrie Hosken, Nick Abbot, Ian Collins, Ian Payne, Cristo Foufas & James O'Brien. In early 2014 it was confirmed that LBC would be made available across the UK on DAB from 11 February that year, taking the capacity earlier vacated by Jazz FM departing the Digital One platform.

Radio X

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Radio X (formerly XFM) broadcasts alternative rock and independent music. It began officially in 1997 as an independent London station, it was purchased by Capital Radio Group (now Global) in 1998. The XFM brand was extended in 2006-7 with the launch of stations in central Scotland, Manchester and South Wales. The Scottish station was rebranded to Galaxy Scotland and subsequently Capital Scotland, and the South Wales station was sold to Town & Country Broadcasting, becoming Nation Radio. From 7 April 2014 96.3 Real Radio XS in Renfrewshire switched to the Xfm brand; this saw the station swap from taking Real XS Manchester's networked shows outside local hours, to those of Xfm London. The Renfrewshire station was available across central-belt Scotland on DAB radio, giving it the same coverage area as the prior Xfm Scotland had done. Xfm London was also available outside the capital as a digital service on a number of the local DAB multiplexes around the country.

From September 2015, XFM was replaced with new 'national' station Radio X, which took up the former XFM slots on FM in London and Manchester, and a national DAB berth. (The Paisley FM franchise was returned to Ofcom, and most local-level DAB slots were turned over to Gold.)


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A network of 'golden oldies' stations, there are two different variants of the station; England & Scotland, and Wales. Many of these were the AM sister stations to heritage CHR stations which are now Heart or Capital stations; though Gold Manchester was originally a standalone station Fortune 1458 and Lite AM before becoming part of the Big-AM and later Capital Gold networks. On DAB, Gold is available in some areas which do not have Gold on AM; in these areas Gold UK is carried, though it may carry local branding on the label. Global chose to close some unviable AM relays of Gold, but has continued to serve these areas on DAB. In the West Midlands, after the divesture of some radio holdings to Orion Media, the Gold brand continued as a franchise, however, in late 2012 these stations were rebranded as Free Radio 80s and no longer carried Gold network programming.

Most Gold stations on AM/local DAB transferred to receive their network programming provision from Smooth Radio on 24 March 2014; local news/travel and advertising drop-ins into the network programming feed continue as previously provided under Gold, and the former Gold stations in Wales continue to offer a four-hour local show as Smooth Wales. Three Gold areas where Smooth is already provided on FM - London, Manchester and the East Midlands - retain a reduced Gold service on AM and (bar Manchester, where capacity is unavailable) local DAB, with most presented shows (aside from a daily morning show, and Simon Hirst's vinyl showcase) ceasing.[11]

A number of areas gained or regained Gold as a DAB service in September 2015 in space vacated by XFM, following XFM's move from local to national transmission as Radio X.

Digital-only stations

Global currently operates three stations exclusively broadcast via digital platforms:

Chill - a service of mellow music; currently on DAB in London and the East Midlands.

The Arrow - a service broadcasting automated classic and contemporary rock music; currently on DAB in London only.

Smooth Extra launched at the end of 2014 to broadcast nationally on Digital One (in the slot previously occupied by the network Smooth Radio service) with a 'melodic music from past decades' format (some programming is simulcast with Smooth London). A previous plan to launch a service of "music from the 70s, 80s and 90s" in the Digital One capacity[12] ultimately did not go ahead.

Heart Extra luanching in February 2016.

A pop-up digital Christmas music station, Smooth Christmas, was operated by R&S in the run-up to Christmas of 2011 and 2012, and having not run in 2013 was revived by Global in 2014.

Former stations

Several DAB-only stations previously operated by Global or its predecessors have now been sold off or closed down, including Capital Life, Core, The Storm, Capital Disney, Heart Digital, Galaxy Digital and theJazz. There was also a digital station called The Mix, which aired content from GWR's Mix Network to DAB and digital TV listeners, but this was withdrawn following the GWR-Capital merger.

Planet Rock was sold in 2008 to the Rock Show consortium led by Malcolm Bluemel. The station was later sold on to Global's major rival Bauer Radio.

The 106 East Midlands radio licence is owned by Orion Media and it operated under a brand licence as Heart East Midlands until January 2011 when it was renamed Gem 106.[13]

Acquired as part of the takeover of GMG Radio/Real & Smooth Ltd, the Real Radio network included five regional adult-contemporary music stations, two of which were previously Century stations owned at one point by Global predecessor GCap Media; following the transfer of licences (including Real in Yorkshire and North Wales) to Communicorp, all five of the Real Radio stations were merged into the Heart network and rebranded on Tuesday 6 May 2014; as part of this the previous pan-Wales Real Radio service provided across two licence areas was split into two Heart services, for South and North Wales.


Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found. "Make Some Noise" a charity which aims to help disadvantaged children, has been supported by Capital, Capital Xtra, Classic FM, Gold, Heart, LBC, Smooth Radio and Radio X stations.[14]


In February 2009 Global Radio and LBC were the subject of criticism by technical and scientific bloggers following their threat of legal action against medical journalist Ben Goldacre for mounting part of an LBC 97.3 broadcast by Jeni Barnett on his website.[15] The move was interpreted as an attempt to suppress criticism and debate rather than enforcement of copyright.

The broadcast has been characterised as irresponsible by David Aaronovitch in The Times, and LBC and Barnett were specifically identified in a critical Early Day Motion by Norman Lamb MP.

In May 2015 Global Radio was criticised for dropping coverage of the HSBC tax story in February that year. Coverage of the story was resumed "some days later."[16]


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  15. "Radio Station Uses Copyright Claim To Try To Silence Bad Science Critic; Guess What Happens?", TechDirt, 6 February 2009
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External links

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