A margine di questa operazione finanziaria ricordo che GCap Media nacque dalla fusione con il gruppo di Capital Radio di Londra. Capital fu la seconda stazione commerciale londinese, creata pochi giorni dopo LBC, emittente del gruppo Global Radio. LBC nacque l'8 ottobre 1973, Capital il 16 dello stesso mese. I 1548 kHz di Capital Gold, aperta nel 1988 sulla stessa frequenza della storica stazione, hanno spento due o tre anni fa, proprio per spingere gli ascoltatori verso il digitale. LBC, invece, è ancora udibile su 1152 kHz.
What a new ownership - an ownership in private hands, and away from the demands of institutional shareholders - should bring is an ability to look beyond the bills of this month and next month, and commit to approaching development of DAB (and other new platforms) on a new basis. We have learnt so much in the last 9 years about what’s good and not good about the current strategy; now is the opportunity, with most of the commercial radio industry in private hands, to take that experience and use it to regroup and reshape the DAB plan for the UK.
To generalise, private equity investors are ruthless on reviewing costs and benefits to customers. There will be pain, and no doubt many people will speculate on “what ifs”. If the potential for DAB can be underpinned with a viable medium-term business plan, then that may justify a renewed commitment to investment. But it’s hard to see how that business plan won’t involve radical change to the existing DAB plan.
It also requires more than just Global and Bauer to commit to change. If Arqiva can’t/won’t contribute meaningfully to cost-reductions re-engineering of DAB infrastructure; if OFCOM can’t tear up the old plan and write a new one; if the BBC are unhappy with changes to DAB for local BBC radio; if receiver manufacturers and consumer electronics manufacturers can’t produce 21st century radio devices - then it’s not going to make the difference that’s required.
I continue to be positive about the potential of DAB. The market is demanding more evolved digital media experiences. Listeners want more “stuff” and more control of it. Advertisers want more compelling, effective and measurable opportunities. Consumer Electronics manufacturers want to add more and more function to devices. The industry can create “new radio”, and of all the technologies that can be used to distribute it, the only one that maintains the ubiquitous, free nature of radio is DAB.