NEWS: Viva! ready to relaunch station as Al Fayed boosts flagging brand with cash injection

Liberty Publishing, the media company owned by the Harrod’s boss, Mohamed Al Fayed, is set to pump a substantial amount of money into the relaunch of the beleaguered radio station, Viva!.

Liberty Publishing, the media company owned by the Harrod’s boss,

Mohamed Al Fayed, is set to pump a substantial amount of money into the

relaunch of the beleaguered radio station, Viva!.



Liberty, which last week rocked the industry by paying pounds 3 million

for the ailing station, previously owned by Golden Rose Communications,

is laying plans to reinvigorate the brand. These are thought to include

a new advertising campaign, new programming and a continued improvement

of the station’s notoriously weak signal.



Liberty plans an increased amount of speech programming for the station

and a less aggressive bias towards women. The Radio Authority has given

the company permission to alter the programme format but insists that

Viva! must target women aged between 24 and 44.



Viva! will continue to be based at its current west London location and

will share Golden Rose studios as well as facilities such as accounting

and engineering.



John Dux, a former News International employee and Liberty Publishing’s

chief executive, said: ‘Once we have received the official approvals in

writing and the purchase agreement is completed, we will be working on

plans to relaunch the station. It is too early to give precise details

of any changes. But it would be fair to say we believe we will have the

scope to provide programming that will be attractive to listeners.’



Richard Wheatly, the chief executive of Golden Rose Communications,

said: ‘This deal gives us the resources to develop our Jazz brands, and

guarantees Viva!’s future.’



The purchase of Viva! is part of Al Fayed’s determination to create a

substantial media company. Last March Liberty bought Punch magazine,

which it plans to relaunch in September. Al Fayed also made failed bids

for the Today newspaper and the Observer.



Separately, Golden Rose has appointed David Salem as sales director of

Jazz FM. Salem was head of national sponsorship sales for Katz.



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