Murdoch Hangs ‘For Sale’ Sign Over TalkSport Radio

18 May 2001

Despite Rupert Murdoch’s warm regard for Kelvin Mackenzie – maverick former editor of NewsCorp’s best-selling UK tabloid The Sun and latterday junior partner in the Murdoch-funded Wireless Group – the tycoon's patience appears to have evaporated in tandem with the funds of WG's sole radio station, TalkSport.

In 2000 the station lost £34 million and is believed to be bleeding cash at the rate of £1m a month. Furthermore, the group’s auditors Andersen Consulting have warned that it will shortly require a £46m cash injection. WG’s current credit limit with Barclays Bank is currently £40m and under renegotiation.

However, the final straw appears to have been the latest set of RAJAR figures [WAMN: 14-May-01] which credited TalkSport with 2.25m listeners – 100,000 less than a year ago. Mackenzie is now said to be seeking a buyer.

The station has also been in trouble with the Radio Authority for referring on-air to Liverpudlians as “scumbags” and for swearing during phone-ins – all grist to Mackenzie’s editorial mill during happier times but likely to be a source of irritation to his major shareholder now the station has its back against the financial wall.

News source: CampaignLive (UK)