Eight regional radio stations with more than 2.5 million listeners were today sold as part of changes that will signal the end of the Real brand.
Heart and Classic FM owner Global Radio is to sell Smooth in the North West and North East, Real Radio stations in North Wales, Yorkshire and Manchester and Capital in Scotland and South Wales in order to meet competition concerns following its takeover of Guardian Media Group's radio assets in 2012.
The company is allowing the buyer, Irish radio broadcaster Communicorp, to rebrand the Real stations under the Heart franchise, while the other Real radio stations which are remaining within Global are adopting the same name.
Loading article content
Communicorp, which will become the UK's fourth largest commercial radio group, will also have licences for the Capital and Smooth stations, with the two Smooth outlets benefiting from the reintroduction of local programming.
Today's deal, which is believed to be worth around £30 million, comes after the Competition Commission identified seven areas where Global's 2012 takeover of Real and Smooth could lead to higher advertising prices.
Global said the Capital network will also be enhanced with a new station in North Wales, taking Capital's weekly reach to 7.7 million, while it plans to grow Smooth to become the fourth largest radio brand in the UK, behind Capital, Heart and Classic FM, with 4.3 million listeners a week.
Global chief executive Stephen Miron said: "The future launch of Heart in five new regions, Smooth in many new regions and a new Capital in North Wales is particularly exciting and enables us to continue our strategy of national brands delivered locally. This is great news for listeners and advertisers."