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Macquarie Media could be forced to sell 2CH after third deadline passes

Macquarie Media could be pushed into a fire sale of its 2CH Sydney AM radio station after breaching media control laws by failing to sell the asset, despite getting two extensions from the regulator.

The rebranded Magic 2CH logo.

Macquarie Media is required to sell the station following its merger last year with Fairfax Radio, which put the station in breach of media ownership laws which impose a ‘two-to-a-market’ limit for commercial radio licences in the Sydney licence area. The broadcaster currently owns the licences for 2GB, 2UE and 2CH in Sydney.

The Australian Media and Communications Authority (ACMA) had approved “temporary breaches” until March 30 before granting a six month extension to September 30 for the the company to find a buyer for the station.

An ACMA spokesperson said: “The Australian Communications and Media Authority granted MML approval to resolve the temporary breach of the ‘two to a market’ limit by 30 September 2016.

“The ACMA originally approved temporary breaches for a period of one year to 30 March 2016. This approval period was subsequently extended by a further six months to 30 September 2016. No further extensions can be granted.”

Macquarie Media executive chairman Russell Tate told The Australian: “We are still in discussions with the regulator at this stage and cannot make a comment.”

The radio broadcaster has been actively looking for a buyer for the station, with the likes of Grant Broadcasters/Capital Radio, a NSW clubs player and the NSW Council of Churches (NCC) all rumoured to have expressed an interest in buying the station.

However because Macquarie did not sell 2CH by the September 30 deadline, a divestiture agent could be appointed to effect a sale, with any proposed sale needing approval from the ACMA.

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