Media: Lifeline - Virgin Radio

SMG, the owner of Virgin Radio, has shown that it wants to remain committed to the station.

1993: Virgin Radio - known as Virgin 1215 after its AM frequency - launches on 30 April. Owned by Richard Branson (75 per cent) and the venture capitalist Apax Partners (25 per cent), it is one of three national commercial radio franchises awarded by the Government in the early 90s - the others being Classic and Talk Radio (now talkSPORT).

1997: Branson sells Virgin to the former Big Breakfast and BBC Radio 1 breakfast show presenter Chris Evans. Branson had been trying to sell to the Capital Radio Group but the deal was referred to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission. Evans, through his production company, Ginger Productions, pays £80 million and the holding company is renamed Ginger Media Group.

2000: Scottish Media Group buys Ginger Media, including Virgin Radio, for £225 million. Evans stays on as a presenter in a deal that will reward him with further share payments - but SMG sacks him after he fails to turn up for work for a whole week.

2003: The ensuing dispute is (at last) heard in the High Court. Evans had sued SMG for damages; SMG counter-sued, arguing that his dismissal was justified. Following a bitter and expensive hearing, Evans loses and is ordered to pay £7 million to SMG in compensation for the company's alleged loss of business during the whole episode.

2005: SMG poaches Christian O'Connell (pictured) from Xfm to host Virgin's breakfast show. Lacklustre results and accusations of management drift at Virgin prompted speculation that SMG would be tempted to accept a £100 million bid for the station from Lord Alli. But SMG rebutts City speculation about its desire to remain in radio.

Fast forward ...

2007: ITV acquires SMG for its Scottish and Grampian businesses and immediately seeks buyers for the non-television media assets. GCap is the highest bidder for Virgin Radio but with the deal inevitably attracting Competition Commission interest, ITV cuts to the chase and sells not to Evans - whose late and low bid attracts ferocious media attention - but to Emap.