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
Insiders confirmed that ’more than one company’ had expressed an
interest in buying the paper, which is poised to go into profit for the
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’.