Date & Applicants for Melbourne FM Auction

The ABA has announced the date it will auction the new commercial FM radio licence for Melbourne – Thursday 12 August.

There are seven applicants:

* ACN 110 030 530 Pty Ltd
* Banbury Pty Ltd
* Daily Mail (UK Radio 3) Pty Ltd
* GTShelfCo 2 Pty Ltd
* HR Broadcast Investments 2004 Pty Ltd
* Melbourne Radio Company Pty Ltd
* River View Radio Pty Limited

The ABA says it will not be releasing any further details about the applicants.

The auction for this licence – on FM 91.5 MHz, for the entire Melbourne metropolitan area – will be held at the Meridien At Rialto Hotel, 495 Collins Street. Registered applicants must check in from 1-1.45pm, with the auction expected to begin at 2pm.

There is a reserve price of $1 million for the licence. Members of the public and the media are welcome to attend the auction, however, only registered applicants may bid for licences.

The auction, technically a ‘licence allocation exercise’, will be conducted in accordance with the price based allocation system determined by the ABA under s36 of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992.

Applications for the new Melbourne FM licence closed yesterday.

With DMG cleaning up earlier this year in Brisbane and Sydney, it will be the last available capital city analog radio licence. And, the ABA has declared this will be the last such auction for five years.

The moratorium will allow the regulator time to review the success of its Licence Area Planning (LAP) process and permit the progress of digital radio.

In that five years, the ABA will also be merged with the ACA into a new regulatory body.

Amid Macquarie Media’s talk of a fourth TV network, with Australian only content, John Singleton recently confirmed he would bid for the new Melbourne licence, despite missing out in Sydney and Brisbane.

In a word of warning, he said if Virgin Radio Australia loses again, the joint venture will “… wait for acquisition opportunities, like Austereo!”

Virgin Radio Australia was set up four months ago to bid for the ABA’s FM auctions in the three eastern states. The joint venture was beaten in Sydney and Brisbane by DMG.

Before the Virgin partnership, Singleton already owned 70% of Macquarie Media and built a collection of media assets, including 2GB and 2CH, part of an Indonesian TV network, 20% of the travel guide company, Lonely Planet, and 70% of the film and TV production company, April Productions.

Ten Executive Chairman and former PBL chief executive, Nick Falloon, says he never understood why the Virgin-Macquarie partnership announced its intention to bid for the three new FM licences.

“Why didn’t they keep quiet and make a surprise bid at the first auction? The announcement of the radio joint venture was a publicity stunt and I think the talk about bidding for the fourth TV network is another stunt.”