In one of these neat twists that might only happen in media and/ or Richard Branson’s world, Virgin are about to buy Absolute Radio, the London FM and UK-wide AM station. It was formerly known as Virgin Radio but the Times of India who acquired it in 2008 hadn’t realised that their £53m purchase price did not buy them the right to use the Virgin name, so they had to find a new one. They chose Absolute Radio.
The station, needless to say, has not been the greatest hit, is loss-making and is likely to be bought for less than half what Times of India paid for it. But when Sir Richard again acquires the station (which once made Chris Evans’ fortune, two owners ago) back will come the familiar name Virgin Radio and the fight for London’s radio audiences gets serious all over again.
All Branson has to do now is outbid UTV (who own the Northern Irish TV channel of that name and Talksport radio) and he is back in a business he loves. But, then, like FI’s Bernie Ecclestone, the Virgin boss always has a price for selling and re-buying.