Media Perspective: The pressure is on for Jackson to put Capital back on top

There was something in the air as a series of events coincided to make it a somewhat lively end to August.

Emap announced a strategy update, saying it would press on with a sale or break-up of the group, while describing market conditions in its key sectors as "encouraging". Meanwhile, Scottish Media Group had managed to sell its outdoor business Primesight (enticing the private equity company GMT Communications Partners to part with £62 million) and then become the subject of renewed attentions from UTV, which again talked up the logic of the two companies merging.

To top that, there was bad news for SMG on Friday when Paul Jackson, the chief executive of Virgin Radio, announced he was leaving to rejoin Capital Radio (which he left in 2001 to join Virgin) as the managing director of its London station.

Awkward for SMG perhaps, because Jackson's departure looks likely to delay the planned IPO of the station in the autumn, while Virgin searches for a replacement. Its recent hiring of the former Chrysalis boss Richard Huntingford as chairman gives it a safe pair of hands for the time being, but there is little doubt that the timing is unfortunate.

Jackson previously held the role of regional programme director at Capital, but has now been handed the keys to the once shiny Ford Capri that is Capital 95.8 in London. It might be rusting a bit in the garage (the recent Rajar showed it had slipped to fourth in London's commercial pecking order behind Heart, Magic and Kiss), but the hope should be that Jackson, with his strong programming background, can give it an overhaul.

Critics argue that his appointment smacks of desperation at GCap Media. He has been reunited with his former Virgin Radio boss Fru Hazlitt, the managing director of GCap London. Snipers suggest the pair hardly set the world on fire while at Virgin, so what will be different at Capital?

While this seems a bit harsh, GCap seems to be operating a Back to the Future-style policy by rehiring executives from the "good old days" of Capital Radio (Hazlitt was a former sales director at Capital, and its former chief executive, Richard Eyre, is returning as chairman of GCap).

There's now big pressure on these returners to get things right with Capital. For Jackson, the son of Richard Park (the man responsible for programming during its heyday), this is possibly a dream chance to make his mark. It will be interesting to see how much room this leaves in the new set-up for Scott Muller, Capital's Australian programme director.

Capital's "no two ads in a row" strategy failed to boost audiences, and the station has struggled to create the best mix of music and presenters needed to reconnect with a London audience that has found alternatives. Johnny Vaughan recovering his number-one slot at breakfast should be a priority.