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
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
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
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.