Media Lifeline: TalkSPORT

The talk radio station has grown through savvy sports deals and some MacKenzie self-promotion.

1998: A consortium headed by the former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie (pictured) purchases the ailing speech-only radio station Talk Radio. Although it had some sports programming rights, the new owners set about designing it as a sports-only station.

2000: The station relaunches as talkSPORT in January with a completely revamped line-up of presenters, including Geoffrey Boycott, Peter Shilton, Brough Scott and Alan Brazil. It also begins acquiring access to big international tournament rights such as the 2002 Fifa World Cup and England's winter cricket tours.

2003: MacKenzie launches a High Court action against Rajar, the radio medium's audience measurement system. Independent research has indicated that talkSPORT's audience leaps significantly during big sporting tournaments - but this is not reflected in the listening figures. Thus it is unable to reap the benefits of its programming investments in advertising revenue terms.

2005: MacKenzie attempts to take full control by acquiring the shares of its holding company. But when he fails, Ulster TV steps in with a successful £98.2 million bid. MacKenzie bows out as its chief and is succeeded by UTV's business director, Scott Taunton (pictured).

2006: TalkSPORT wins its most important programming prize to date, bidding successfully to land live commentary rights on a package of 32 Saturday afternoon English Premier League fixtures. The BBC, however, maintains access to all other Premier League games - and even has first choice of which Saturday match it will cover.

Fast forward ...

2008: Following a landmark mobile deal, talkSPORT becomes the Premier League's chosen partner for the development of a live digital football platform, including visual as well as audio content. This prompts BSkyB to make UTV an offer it can't refuse and they become joint venture partners in a revamped operation housed under the Sky Sports branding.