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Bauer Radio is a UK-based radio division of the Bauer Media Group.
The Bauer network is divisible into two main groups, the Bauer City and Bauer National portfolios, with City consisting of locally focused services primarily broadcast on FM/AM and local digital platforms to a given coverage area, and National consisting of national and quasi-national music-genre services delivered mainly through digital platforms, with some services also offered on FM/AM.
Bauer's network of local FM stations was originally known as the Big City Network. In 2006, many of the former Scottish Radio Holdings stations were added to the network and branded as Big City Network Scotland and Northern Ireland, although all stations kept their original logos, with the exception of CFM, which took a version of the 'cog' logo used by other BCN stations in England. West Sound was the only AM station in the network although it did not carry any of the networked programming carried by the FM stations.
In April 2011 Bauer Radio announced it would be restructuring its radio portfolio into two divisions: locally focused and heritage stations, including many of the Big City stations, South Coast station Wave 105 and London station Magic 105.4 FM would also become part of the "Bauer Place" division, with branded music-category stations such as Kiss and Kerrang Radio forming a second sub-brand, "Bauer Passion" - the Big City Network identity was dropped as part of the restructuring.
In April 2013, Bauer announced it would merge its two North East England stations, Metro Radio and TFM. Both stations broadcast shared programming from Newcastle and Manchester while carrying separate branding, news bulletins and advertising.
In September 2014, Bauer announced it would be restructuring its radio portfolio as from January 2015. Magic AM in England was dropped in favour of the stations reverting to their heritage station names. The stations now form part of the new 'City 2' network serving both Scotland and Northern England. A 'City 3' network on DAB replacing The Hits Radio (in most areas) launched on Monday 19 January 2015. As part of this restructuring, the Place and Passion network banners introduced in 2011 were replaced by the current Bauer City and Bauer National divisions. (The 'City 3' network was withdrawn in favour of reverting to the networked The Hits service from September 2017.)
At the beginning of March, 2016, Bauer moved two of its stations, Planet Rock and Absolute 80s, from Digital One onto the Sound Digital multiplex, reducing the availability of these stations (areas including East Anglia, the South West, parts of Kent, Cumbria, and large areas of Wales and Scotland had no Sound Digital network transmitters at all.) The issue was reported in local press in some areas Planet Rock and Absolute 80s on D1 began broadcasting just a retune message loop from 18 April and the switch-off occurred on 30 April.
On 6 May 2016, Bauer announced it had brought Midlands radio group Orion Media for an undisclosed fee, reportedly between £40 and £50 million. It was subsequently confirmed that Orion's stations Free Radio (West Midlands) and Gem (East Midlands) would become part of the Bauer City portfolio, with Gem introducing a version of the City sonic logo device to its presentation from August 2016.
Hits Radio Brand
England & Scotland
- Hits Radio Network – 20 CHR local radio stations on FM and DAB in Northern England, the West Midlands (Free Radio) and Scotland
- Bauer City 2 – 15 AC local radio stations on DAB, AM & FM in Northern England and Scotland
- Radio City Talk – a speech, sports and rock music radio station on AM & DAB in Liverpool
- Free Radio 80s - a group of 1980s-themed stations on AM and DAB in the West Midlands
- Gem 106 - Hot AC regional radio station in the East Midlands
- Wave 105 – Hot AC regional radio station in Solent
- Cool FM – CHR local radio station on FM in Belfast and DAB across Northern Ireland
- Downtown Radio – Hot AC local radio station on AM/DAB in Belfast and FM/DAB in the rest of Northern Ireland
- Downtown Country – Dedicated digital country music station on DAB in Northern Ireland
- Bauer National – national radio stations available via FM (in selected areas) and digital across the UK, including:
- Absolute Radio is aimed at 35 to 54 year olds. It is made up of:
- Absolute Radio
- Absolute Radio 60s
- Absolute Radio 70s
- Absolute Radio 80s
- Absolute Radio 90s
- Absolute Radio 00s
- Absolute Radio Classic Rock
- Kiss is aimed at 15 to 34 year olds. It is made up of:
- Kiss FM
- Kiss Fresh
- heat Radio
- Magic is aimed at 25 to 54 year olds. It is made up of:
- Magic Radio
- Magic Chilled
- Mellow Magic
- Magic Soul
- Absolute Radio is aimed at 35 to 54 year olds. It is made up of:
- Planet Rock
- Heat Radio
- Kerrang Radio
- Hits Radio
- Jazz FM
Bauer is a partner in one of the UK's national commercial multiplexes, operates twelve wholly owned local DAB multiplexes, and jointly owns a further three with Global Radio; the firm was also formerly a minority partner (of Wireless Group) for local services in three further areas. Bauer operates the following DAB multiplexes:
Bauer has a 30% holding in Sound Digital, operator of the second national commercial DAB multiplex to launch in the UK; this began transmissions in spring 2016 and several Bauer stations broadcast on it, some transferred from other multiplexes. The other partners are Wireless Group (30%) and Arqiva (40%).
Bauer Digital Radio
Bauer's wholly owned digital multiplexes are primarily located in areas where the firm operates local FM stations; the original group of Bauer (formerly Emap) DAB multiplexes are located in the following areas:
- Central Lancashire - Bauer Central Lancashire
- Humberside - Bauer Humberside
- Leeds - Bauer Leeds
- Liverpool - Bauer Liverpool
- South Yorkshire - Bauer South Yorkshire
- Teesside - Bauer Teesside
- Tyne and Wear - Bauer Tyne & Wear
As part of Emap's takeover of Scottish Radio Holdings, the firm gained control of Score Digital, the DAB multiplex operator owned by SRH. Competition guidelines required the merged firm to divest of one of the multiplexes obtained in this deal, and so the Ayr multiplex formerly run by Score was sold on to Arqiva. The remaining Score multiplexes have since been relabelled as Bauer multiplexes.
The ex-Score DAB multiplexes are located in:
- Dundee - Score Dundee
- Edinburgh - Score Edinburgh
- Glasgow - Score Glasgow
- Inverness - Score Inverness
- Northern Ireland - Score Northern Ireland
UTV Bauer Digital
The Wireless Group and Emap entered into a venture to run the following three DAB multiplexes. These multiplexes were initially branded as TWG-Emap multiplexes; following the sale of TWG to UTV (creating UTV Radio), the multiplexes were relabelled as UTV-Emap, and following the sale of Emap's radio assets to Bauer, the blocks were renamed again as UTV-Bauer. Bauer owned 30 per cent of the UTV-Bauer venture, but sold its stake in November 2013.
- Stoke-on-Trent - UTV-Bauer Stoke-on-Trent
- Swansea - UTV-Bauer Swansea
- West Yorkshire - UTV-Bauer West Yorkshire
Bauer and Global Radio jointly own CE Digital Ltd, each holding 50% of the venture. The CE operation was established by Emap in partnership with the Capital Radio Group, which through mergers subsequently became part of GCap Media and later Global Radio. The 'CE' multiplexes take their name from the initials of Capital and Emap, and have not been renamed despite the identity changes of both operators.
CE Digital operate the following DAB multiplexes:
- Birmingham - CE Birmingham
- London - CE London (also known as Greater London I)
- Manchester - CE Manchester
In 2008 Radio City 2 started annually releasing hundreds of balloons (with messages attached) from the roof of the Radio City 2 "in memory of loved ones that we miss at Christmas time." This practice continued on an annual basis until December 2016. On 22 December Radio City 2 and Pete Price - a radio presenter at Radio City 2 - were contacted by numerous scuba divers and environmentally savvy members of the public begging them to cancel the planned mass balloon release at midnight on 22 December. The balloon release went ahead. Two leading diver journalists contacted Radio City 2's owner - Bauer Media Group - appealing for this practice to be stopped. Bauer Media confirmed that no company within the Group would conduct a balloon release in the future. An exception to this was made by Key 103 on the 24th May 2017, 2 days after the Manchester Arena terror attack in memory of the 22 victims that died.
- "Bauer drops Big City image", Radio Today, 14 Apr 2011 Archived 4 May 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
- TFM leaves Teesside to share with Metro, RadioToday, 5 April 2013
- Greatest Hits Network Change request form Ofcom
- Magic Changes Ofcom Request Form Ofcom
- "Bauer buys radio group Orion Media", The Guardian, 6 May 2016
- "Orion Media sold to Bauer for £50m", The Telegraph, 6 May 2016
- "Brands - Radio". www.bauermedia.co.uk. Retrieved 2018-06-21.
- "Bauer Media Group agrees to acquire Jazz FM". Radio Today. 2018-08-16. Retrieved 2018-08-16.
- "DAB Ensembles WorldWide - UK Local & Minimuxes". wohnort.org.
- See 'End Notes' on page 28.
- Rosemary E Lunn (9 January 2017), "Bauer Media To Stop 'Balloon Releases' Within The Group", X-Ray Mag