TalkSport in talks to buy Sport First

A potential takeover of tabloid newspaper Sport First by Kelvin MacKenzie’s TalkSport radio station could create cross-promotional opportunities for advertisers and bring more readers to the two-year-old title.

A potential takeover of tabloid newspaper Sport First by Kelvin

MacKenzie’s TalkSport radio station could create cross-promotional

opportunities for advertisers and bring more readers to the two-year-old

title.



Insiders confirmed that ’more than one company’ had expressed an

interest in buying the paper, which is poised to go into profit for the

first time.



It has a turnover of around pounds 4.5 million. The takeover deal would

value it at more than pounds 15 million.



Sport First has a circulation of just over 85,000. As well as its

national Sunday edition, it now publishes a South East edition every

Friday. Its coverage is mainly devoted to football.



TalkSport was created when MacKenzie bought the ailing Talk Radio for

pounds 24.7 million nearly 18 months ago.



MacKenzie is said to have ploughed millions of his own money into the

Wireless Group, which owns a number of local radio stations. Rupert

Murdoch also has a 20 per cent stake.



According to the latest Rajar figures, TalkSport’s listening figures

fell from 2.3 million in the first quarter of 1999 to 2.2 million in the

final quarter. The station contests the figures, claiming it had 2.9

million listeners in January.



The station says its own poll shows that many people who thought they

were listening to BBC coverage were actually tuned to TalkSport.

Managing director of sales Tim Bleakley said: ’If I wasn’t so serious

I’d say ’we was robbed’. These figures are costing TalkSport and

commercial radio listeners.’



He said the good news for advertisers was that they were ’getting an

audience that, at present, they don’t have to pay for’.



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