Capital Radio shuns possibility of deal with Clear Channel of US

The chief executive of Capital Radio yesterday doused the chances of his group bowing to a takeover from Clear Channel of the US, warning of a potential "culture clash" between the two companies.

David Mansfield, who has lobbied hard for a shake-up of UK media ownership rules, ruled out even talking to the US radio giant about a possible merger.

Speaking at the Radio Festival in Birmingham, Mr Mansfield said there were "fundamental cultural differences in approaches" between Clear Channel and Capital.

In a blunt response to a question from Greg Dyke, the BBC director general, about how Capital would respond to a bid from Clear Channel once the Communications Bill has become law, he said: "We will probably have a major cultural clash should Clear Channel make an approach."

Mr Mansfield said that while Clear Channel was driven by advertisers, the "commercial imperative at Capital is listeners". Speaking at the same event a year earlier, Clear Channel's boss Lowry Mays admitted that his business was about "selling hamburgers and Fords".

Mr Mansfield added: "They have said on a number of occasions that they would like to be involved in British radio, but by invitation only. I won't be picking up the phone. Quite frankly, we don't need Clear Channel to help us grow our business."

Any radio mergers would be liable to the same "public interest" rule enshrined in the Communications Bill as other media mergers, a spokesman for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport underlined. "The rule is about ensuring there are plurality of media voices. The actual nationality of a company wouldn't necessarily impact on that," he added, implying that a bid from Clear Channel or Viacom would be as liable as one from another British radio or television group to be scrutinised by the Government.

While US media groups centralise everything related to running radio stations, from programming to music selections, the UK radio market is far more localised, analysts said. This could make it hard for companies like Clear Channel to sweep in and shake up the UK market, they added.

Mr Mansfield said Capital was open to working with US radio groups where it made sense, pointing to a joint venture in the UK for children's radio with Walt Disney - Capital Disney.

"If we can see benefits we will do deals like that but the company is not sitting here offering itself up for sale," he added.

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