Journalists in Greece have walked out of newsrooms across the country, causing a nationwide news blackout in the first of four strike days. No television or radio news bulletins will be broadcast, no news websites will be updated and no newspapers or magazines will be published until Tuesday.
Absolute Radio could reportedly be sold under a review of the loss-making radio station being run by its India-based owner.
Times Infotainment Media, a subsidiary ofThe Times Of India owner Bennett, Coleman and Co Ltd (BCCL), bought Absolute Radio, then called Virgin Radio, for £53.2 million in 2008.
After the rebrand, Absolute’s losses grew 62% to £4.3m in 2009 and its revenue fell by a third as audience figures declined, despite the station signing high-profile presenters such as Frank Skinner.
The station hit an all-time low of 1.37m listeners in the final quarter of last year, down by more than a million on the 2.35m in the three months before its relaunch.
Speaking to The Wall Street Journal, BCCL chief executive Ravi Dhariwal said: “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.”
Industry insiders have suggested that TalkSport owner UTV Media could be a potential suitor if Absolute Radio is put on the market. UTV reported strong financial performance last year, including a 17% increase in its profits.
One industry executive told The Guardian: “Only existing national operators are likely to be serious contenders because of the amount of money Absolute is losing and the economies of scale that would need to be made.”
UTV could be particularly interested in Absolute Radio due to its rights deal to air commentary of 32 live Premier League games a season. TalkSport currently broadcasts 64 games per season from the league.
Absolute also owns a valuable FM licence for London and a national AM licence with listeners in England, Scotland and Wales.