Vi dico la verità, non mi sembra una gran lezione di free market. Anzi, vista così assomiglia dannatamente all'ennesimo oligopolio. E anche un po' schifosetto. Se l'OFCOM approverà la fusione l'oligopolio si trasformerà addirittura in monopolio e a quel punto, giustamente, non gli sarà possibile succhiare tutto quel denaro. Ma intanto, quanta ricchezza è stata bruciata grazie a una tecnologia che ci era stata presentata come una grande, improcrastinabile "rivoluzione"?
Arqiva plans to cut cost of radio broadcasts
By Juliette Garside
The company which owns half of Britain's radio and TV masts is offering to slash its prices in a move that could secure regulatory approval for its £2.5bn merger with rival National Grid Wireless and provide a major fillip to Britain's troubled commercial radio industry.
Arqiva - which is owned by Macquarie, the Australian bank - is pledging to cut the cost of transmitting all radio stations by an average of 15pc if the merger is approved, according to commercial radio sources.
The BBC and commercial radio spend a combined £100m a year broadcasting radio in FM, AM and digital formats. The BBC's contract is with National Grid Wireless, but the offer of a price cut is understood to apply to the BBC as well.
Broadcasters would also be able to cancel contracts for the first time, once capital costs have been recouped, with one year's notice. The break clause would be introduced as part of new 10- or 12-year agreements.
This would make it easier to shut down loss-making digital stations, or those broadcast in AM, which have a dwindling audience.
Arqiva agreed last April to acquire rival National Grid Wireless in a move that would create a monopoly for the transmission of all radio and terrestrial TV in the UK.
The Competition Commission is investigating, and in November warned it might order Macquarie to sell off National Grid Wireless. A final decision is expected in March.
To avoid a forced disposal, Macquarie is hoping to reach an agreement that can be proposed jointly with the radio companies to the commission. The cut in transmission costs is designed to pass on savings from the merger.
Negotiations have been led by industry trade body the RadioCentre and Ralph Bernard, chief executive of GCap Media until last year and on the company's payroll until the end of February.
Radio companies are desperate to cut the amount they spend on transmission, particularly for digital stations. They have spent millions buying up local, regional and national digital licences and committing to 12-year transmission contracts with Arqiva in the hope that listeners would throw away their old analogue radio sets.
However take up has been disappointing. While digital TV is in more than 86pc of homes, just 20pc of adults own a digital radio. In the past six months, loss-making digital stations have been coming off air.
UBC Media has closed the national speech station Oneword, GCap has closed Core and is due to close Life. Virgin Radio has scrapped plans to launch a women's station, Virgin Radio Viva.
A source close to the negotiations said radio companies had been lobbying Arqiva to cut the cost of digital transmission for the past year. "They were the only ones making any money out of digital radio.
They were just collecting the money and the rest of us were having to fund it. It was only when it became apparent that their merger with National Grid Wireless was running into the sand that they started to negotiate," he said.
Arqiva declined to comment.
GCap in particular is under huge pressure to slash the estimated £16m a year it spends on digital broadcasting. Chief executive Fru Hazlitt is fighting a takeover from Global Radio, the privately owned group chaired by former ITV boss Charles Allen.
Hazlitt will unveil a turnaround blueprint for GCap on February 11, and the prospect of a deal with Arqiva could be a central plank in her defence. GCap spends a total of £25m a year on transmitting all its stations, and could save up to £4m under the new terms.