Capital rethinks after Ginger deal

A disappointed David Mansfield, Capital Radio’s chief executive, has turned his fire on the BBC after Chris Evans was successful in his bid to buy Virgin Radio from under Capital’s nose.

A disappointed David Mansfield, Capital Radio’s chief executive,

has turned his fire on the BBC after Chris Evans was successful in his

bid to buy Virgin Radio from under Capital’s nose.



’Our strategy has always been to grow the marketplace and we will

continue to grow radio’s share of all advertising,’ Mansfield said. ’One

of the biggest single hurdles to growth for all of us is an unregulated

BBC.’



Ginger Productions, Chris Evans’ TV production company, made an

audacious last-minute bid for Virgin on Monday night, as Capital’s

proposed takeover was held up by a Monopolies and Mergers Commission

inquiry. A new company, Ginger Media Group, will be formed and will

operate Virgin Radio and Ginger Television.



Media agencies cautiously welcomed Evans’ purchase of Virgin, saying it

is in the industry’s interest for Virgin to be a strong brand -

regardless of who owns it.



Derek Morris, managing partner of Unity, commented: ’The increased

investment and attention for the medium is welcome - which is why the

industry supported Capital’s initial takeover plans. With Ginger’s

intervention, we have pretty much the same end result - we’ve got an

enhanced Virgin.’



David Fletcher, head of radio at CIA Medianetwork, disagreed. ’What the

industry will lose is the ability for Capital and Virgin to focus their

efforts on stealing audience from the BBC. What may happen instead is

more intra-media rivalry, which may be good for Virgin, but is not in

the interest of radio.’



Capital maintains that the disbandment of its sales house, Media Sales &

Marketing, was prompted only in part by the merger. Fru Hazlitt, the

sales director of the new in-house sales operation, Capital Advertising,

said: ’It doesn’t affect our sales operation. When the merger was

referred to the MMC, we decided not to structure the team fully; we all

felt it would have been foolish to plan our operation around it

happening.’



Virgin Radio’s chief executive, David Campbell, will become chief

executive of GMG, while John Pearson, Virgin Radio’s managing director,

will become its chief executive.



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