Bauer chief Paul Keenan, the modern day Shakespeare?
It’s been a busy couple of weeks for Bauer Media’s chief exec Paul Keenan, revisiting licensing contracts, inciting regulatory battles and, of course, dabbling in some existential philosophy.
Earlier this week, Bauer’s chief wrote to advertisers, agencies, MPs and regulator Ofcom to reiterate his concerns about Global Radio’s estimated £70m acquisition of GMG Radio, the owner of Smooth and Real Radio.
Keenan believes Global’s takeover will harm both commercial radio’s competition and plurality of news. Research he commissioned from Enders Analysis is said to conclude that the merger would create “excessive concentration” in the UK radio sector.
It warned it could reduce the supply of local radio news and current affairs programming and also reduce the diversity of music playlists.
Bauer believes Global, already Britain’s biggest commercial radio group, with an empire that includes Capital, Heart, Classic and LBC, stands to command 70% of the advertising market in some areas after the takeover. Overall, Bauer is expected to have a 57% share, although Global has suggested the actual figure will be just below 50%.
Keenan’s lobbying comes days after he was forced to call urgent contract talks with licensing publishing partner Mondadori after the European publisher became the first to publish photos of a topless Kate – Duchess of Cambridge. The removal of the photographs from Closer France’s website the next day is unlikely to have been a coincidence.
Meanwhile, the chief exec, whose company in addition to Closer also publishes celebrity weekly Heat, has also had time to consider Charlotte Stockting’s attempts to reposition Hello! Magazine as non-celebrity driven weekly, preferring to view it as more a lifestyle read.
The Bard once famously asked: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet”.
This week, in what must be a strong contender for quote of the month, Keenan told me: “If you’re seven foot tall, covered in white fur, eat raw fish and live in cold places, the chances are you’re a polar bear. I think they [Hello!] can say what they like about what they think they are, the rest of the world may have a slightly different view.”