Paul Thompson wins Sydney licence for DMG

Paul Thompson today added the 66th station to DMG’s Australian radio empire, winning the Sydney FM licence auction with a bid of $106 million.

A delighted Thompson, who was aware that the Australian radio industry was following the progress of the auction on radioinfo, told us: “I’m sorry, I wasn’t really looking at what you were doing during the auction, I was concentrating on something else! But I knew you were across it, as of course radioinfo would be.”

Thompson, who appeared nervous when the bidding topped $100 million, was bidding against one other serious player – the other bidder, sitting with Ian Grace was from the Virgin/Macquarie syndicate.

The bidding started slowly, with a moment of silence before Thompson made the first bid of $50 million.

Thompson told the media scrum that gathered around him at the end of the auction: “If you compare today’s price to the $155 million we paid for Nova it was a bargain, but compared with the $26 million recently paid on the Gold Coast then you’d have to say it was a pretty decent price… The payment will be funded by DMGT’s UK cash reserves.”

Thompson says: “Given we have a duopoly we will be able to share costs with Nova.

Thompson was characteristically cagey about the format for the new station at this early stage, but did say the format would be “a fair way apart” from Nova. The new station will be co-located with Nova at Pyrmont.

In answer to a question asking “are there any more format niches left in the Sydney radio market,” he said: “There are a lot of niches open… I have a very good idea of what we will target, but I’m not saying.”

While Thompson does not usually comment on competitors, he made an exception this time to say if Virgin had come in and “used this licence as a platform for a national under 40 Virgin network it would have been damaging.”

The photos below show glimpses of the room during the auction, from when ABA Chairman David Flint opened the bidding to the final bid.

AVI file of the conference room (6.5 Mb). Click here
to view.