GCap enlists reality TV stars in revamp of local radio network

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The Independent Online

Britain's largest commercial radio company, GCap Media, is revamping its local radio division – the One Network – as it looks to breathe life into the chain with new cross-network shows hosted by celebrities.

GCap's One Network of 42 stations, including BRMB in Birmingham, Red Dragon in Cardiff and Invicta FM in Kent, has come under pressure as more listeners tune into national stations or digital channels, mirroring problems at Capital, GCap's flagship station in London. In the past year, the number of listeners to GCap's local stations has fallen from 7.4 million to 7.2 million.

GCap is launching two cross-network shows, to be hosted by the reality TV stars Myleene Klass, who also broadcasts on Classic FM, and Ryan Seacrest, who will present a showbiz news and gossip programme. The media regulator, Ofcom, has previously restricted radio companies' ability to launch cross-network shows to preserve the local identity of certain stations, but analysts said those limitations had now been lifted.

GCap wants to enhance its local news and information services and is also re-focusing its websites on new and local music. These will allow regional musicians to upload their work on to the sites and allow listeners to post details of local events. As part of the shake-up, GCap has devised a new logo and a cross-network slogan "Haven't you heard?". It will launch a marketing campaign to promote the rejig, its first in seven years.

Richard Menzies-Gow, an analyst with Dresdner Kleinwort, said the One Network did need a revamp, given the pressures on commercial radio operators, but the new strategy was "nothing we haven't seen before".

GCap's shares closed down 3p at 218p.

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