Rupert Murdoch’s UK newspaper group has mounted a major challenge to BBC radio with a £220m takeover of Wireless Group, the owner of the Premier League football broadcaster talkSport.
The company, which also owns Virgin Radio and a string of local radio stations around the UK and Ireland, recommended an offer from News UK of 315p per share, a 70pc premium on yesterday’s closing price. Wireless Group, known until last year as UTV, sold off its Irish television businesses to ITV to focus on radio. TalkSport, its flagship, carries a mix of live commentary and topical discussion with presenters such as Colin Murray and the retired cricketer Darren Gough.
Adding Wireless, with about £75m in revenues, should give News UK greater scale in negotiations with media agencies and a more “powerful network”, according to Robert Thomson, the chief executive of News Corp, the parent company, which is controlled by Rupert Murdoch.
Brooks told Campaign that News UK’s flagship title, The Sun, was “perfectly matched” with talkSPORT and expects the two brands to collaborate in areas such as sponsorship, where Wireless has already done “amazing things” for clients. However, she is planning to keep the two ad sales operations separate at least in the immediate future. “There can be things we can do together, there are things we can do separately,” she said, noting it is only a “proposed acquisition at this stage”. A source close to the company pointed out that newspapers and radio tend to be sold differently.
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