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|Broadcast area||East Midlands, Lake District, London, North East, North West, Scotland, West Midlands|
|Slogan||Your Relaxing Music Mix|
|Frequency||FM 97 MHz-108 MHz |
AM 603 kHz-1557 kHz
Virgin Media: 916
|First air date||4 March 1990 (As Jazz FM)|
4 October 2010 (As Smooth Radio)
|Sister stations||Capital FM|
Smooth Radio is a network of adult contemporary local radio stations broadcasting on FM and MW stations in the United Kingdom. Launched in March 2014, they replaced the national Smooth Radio that had launched in 2010 on FM, and most outlets of Gold on MW. Each FM station broadcasts localised breakfast and drivetime programming on weekdays, with networked shows simulcast from London at all other times. Three of the six FM stations, and all eighteen AM frequencies, are owned and operated by Global, with the remaining three FM licences owned by Communicorp and run as a franchise.
Having previously operated under a number of regional licences, Smooth Radio's owners, GMG Radio merged its five English stations into one quasi-national station, launching the brand on the Digital One national DAB network on 4 October 2010. Most of the output was broadcast from Salford Quays in Manchester, with other programming coming from Castlereagh Street in London.
On 25 June 2012, GMG Radio's owners, Guardian Media Group sold its radio division to Global at an estimated price of between £50 million and £70 million. [a] Global renamed GMG Radio "Real and Smooth Radio Ltd." Several rival radio groups expressed their concerns over the takeover and the effect it could have on commercial radio in the UK. Ofcom launched a review of the sale, and it was announced that GMG Radio and Global would continue to operate as separate entities while the review was conducted. On 3 August the Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt instructed Ofcom and the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) to examine Global's purchase of GMG, which gave Global over 50% of the UK radio market because of concerns the takeover may not be in the public interest. On 11 October, the OFT concluded that the merger could lead to a rise in local advertising costs because of the decrease in competitors, and forwarded the matter to the Competition Commission, which oversees business mergers and takeovers. On the same day the Competition Commission announced it would publish its findings into the takeover by 27 March 2013.
The Competition Commission published its final report into the acquisition on 21 May 2013, requiring Global to sell radio stations in seven locations.[b] Global subsequently appealed the decision, but this was rejected by the Competition Appeal Tribunal in November. Global announced in December that it would not contest the decision, and would instead begin the process of selling the assets as directed by the Commission. On 4 February 2014, the Radio Today website reported that Ofcom had given Global permission to remove Smooth from the Digital One platform, and to replace it with a service playing music from the 1970s, 80s and 90s. Under this agreement, Smooth would continue to broadcast on its regional frequencies, but would be required to provide seven hours of local output per day. On 6 February, Global confirmed the sale of eight of its regional stations—including those with the Smooth Radio brand in the North West, North East and East Midlands—to the Irish media holdings company Communicorp.[c] Under a franchising agreement between the two firms, these stations would retain the Smooth Radio name, but relaunch airing a mixture of both regional content and networked programming from London. Smooth would also take over Gold's medium wave frequencies, except in London, Manchester and the East Midlands. Global announced later that month that Smooth would be relaunched on 3 March, and subsequently confirmed the Gold changes would take effect from 24 March, when the stations would begin simulcasting with Smooth Radio London. This also coincided with the return of local programming at breakfast and drivetime.
The Smooth network comprises 24 stations:
FM stations produce and broadcast local programming from local studios from 6-10am and 4-7pm on weekdays, and 2-6pm at weekends. All AM stations carry networked programming content as broadcast from London, with the exception that the two stations in Wales carry a local opt-out programme from noon to 4pm on weekdays, as they had done under Gold. Many of the FM/AM stations, but not all, are also on DAB where this is provided in their coverage area. Digital TV platforms carry the London version of Smooth.
Smooth Radio also operates Smooth Extra, with the slogan Your Refreshing Music Mix (unlike all the other Smooth stations). The station transmits its own non-stop music output from 10am to 6pm every day. The remainder of programming is a direct relay of Smooth London.