Reports: Times Group may sell Absolute Radio


Reports have emerged today that Bennett, Coleman and Co. Ltd (BCCL), which acquired UK-based Virgin Radio Holdings Ltd (Absolute Radio) in June 2008, is considering selling the station.

The station was bought out for �53.2 million by TIML Radio Ltd, a subsidiary of Times Infotainment Media Ltd (part of BCCL), from Scottish Media Group Plc.

At the time of the acquisition, the station was known as Virgin Radio before it was revamped to Absolute Radio in a �15 million rebranding exercise.

“We are in the process of conducting a review (of our various businesses)���as to where we stand. It�۪s too premature to talk about the likelihood of sale, etc. I wouldn�۪t want to comment any further,” said Ravi Dhariwal, chief executive of BCCL.

Abolsute Radio broadcasts nationally on AM, also on FM in London and DAB digital radio. It also operates five other specialist stations.

For the calendar year 2009, TIML Radio registered a 60% rise in pre-tax loss to �4.3 million from �2.69 million. Revenue fell to �14.79 million from �21.99 million.

Listenership patterns are well established in Europe and Times may have found it difficult to increase its audience, said Jehil Thakkar, executive director and head of media and entertainment (gaming, film industry, broadcasting, print media) at audit and consulting firm KPMG India Pvt. Ltd.

“Unless they were trying to cater to a specific diaspora in Europe, which they weren�۪t, getting people to tune in is difficult,” he said.

MediaWeek reported on 5 October that Absolute Radio hoped to break even during 2011, quoting Donnach O�۪Driscoll, chief executive of the firm.

In India, Bennett, Coleman and Co. Ltd runs the successful Radio Mirchi brand.

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