Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp has completed a £220m deal to buy Wireless Group, with Talksport and Virgin Radio now under the media magnate’s ownership.
It is a major further move into UK broadcasting for the group, which publishes The Sun, Times and Sunday Times under subsidiary News UK and has a 40 per cent stake in broadcaster Sky.
Talksport is the UK’s most popular commercial radio station reaching over 3m listeners a week, according to RAJAR.
Robert Thomson, chief executive of News Corp, said: “This acquisition eloquently illustrates our belief in the United Kingdom as a place to invest and do business.
“The strength of Wireless, with its digital and international capabilities, especially in sports coverage, will help our publishing brands engage with readers and advertisers.
“We are proud to welcome this valuable company with much potential into News Corp’s family of businesses.”
Rebekah Brooks, chief executive of News UK, added: “It will allow us to bolster our products by sharing the best journalistic content and broadcasting talent in the industry.
“Additionally we can offer cross-platform opportunities to advertisers and partners which we know that they want.
“We are excited to press ahead with new ideas that build on the strengths of both businesses”.
As a Liverpool FC supporter he said the “inevitable future working relationship” between Talksport and The Sun made his position “unsustainable”.
The Sun famously carried a front page report falsely accusing Liverpool fans of acting disgracefully during the Hillsborough disaster in 1989, for which it has since apologised.
Wireless Group, which was created this year out of the sale of the UTV Media’s TV stations, also owns weekly free titles Sport Magazine and 21 local radio stations in the UK and Ireland.
In 2009 The Sun launched internet radio show SunTalk. Billed as the “home of free speech”, it went out five days a week from 10am to 1pm presented by former Talksport host Jon Gaunt.
The show was cancelled a year-and-a-half after it started amid reports that it had been planning to transfer to digital radio.
Though said to have been unrelated, two days before the show’s closure frontman Gaunt lost a legal battle with Ofcom after calling a London councillor a “Nazi” in 2008, over which he had been fired from Talksport.