Is the deal done?

Staff Writer

After a couple of false starts, it looks like Fairfax Radio will merge with Macquarie Radio Network.

The $200 million talkback radio merger is expected to close before Christmas.

The Australian Financial Review article says: “The merger, which is expected to be signed off before Christmas, would create an entity that would own Macquarie Radio’s 2GB – the home of top-rated Sydney shock jocks Alan Jones and Ray Hadley – and Fairfax’s top-rated Melbourne station 3AW.”

The article goes on to report that Fairfax will be expected to hold the controlling interest in the merger. AFR also reported that current Macquarie Radio Chairman Russell Tate would retain the same role in the new merged entity and that current Fairfax Radio CEO Adam Lang would take on “a very senior position and a succession plan would be in place.”

If the merger finalises that would then deliver a stronger National Talk Network with 2GB, 2UE, 3AW, 4BC and 6PR. The only missing piece of the talk puzzle is NOVA Entertainment owned FIVEaa in Adelaide.

Industry sources have said to Radio Today: “Buying 2GB given Alan Jones age is a bit like buying 2DAY FM with Kyle & Jackie O”.

The premise being that the stations profile and revenue base would take a hit if Alan was to leave, more than halving its value.  However, Fairfax can take comfort in the knowledge that Alan Jones renewed his contract with 2GB on December 4 and this will see him part of the line-up until at least June 2017.

One big question is what would they do with 2UE? Keep it as a Talk brand or switch 2UE to the Fairfax Radio "Magic" format? That could deliver the new group a Magic Network across 75% of Australia’s population centres on the East Coast.

In terms of the current Fairfax Radio Music brands, 96FM Perth and Magic Melbourne and Brisbane would be maintained, although there is speculation that ARN are running the ruler across 96FM in Perth.

AFR reports that Macquarie Radio’s 2CH would be divested.

Late this afternoon both companies made an announcement to the ASX.

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