Ulster TV: 'We'll talk to MacKenzie'

By Caitlin Pike

Ulster Television this week said it was “looking forward” to
discussions with Kelvin MacKenzie and other executives at The Wireless
Group over the future of the company if the deal to buy the radio
broadcaster goes ahead.

Former Sun editor and chief executive of the Wireless Group
MacKenzie is “upset” and “irritated” that his bid to buy the company he
founded looks to have been thwarted by UTV.

Writing in The
Guardian this week MacKenzie said he had received “the standard DCM –
Don’t Come Monday” following UTV’s £98m deal to buy the Wireless Group,
and was staring unemployment in the face.

A UTV spokeswoman said:
“We have put in place an offer for The Wireless Group plc which is
subject to shareholder approval. If they elect to approve this offer,
we look forward to having a discussion with Kelvin MacKenzie and other
Wireless executives at that stage.”

MacKenzie bought TalkSport
(Talk Radio as it was then) in 1998 and described how hard he and his
colleagues had worked to reinvent the station. In the latest Rajar
figures TalkSport beat Virgin radio for the first time with an increase
of 500,000 listeners in the last quarter. At the time MacKenzie said:
“This is a fantastic chapter in the success story of TalkSport. There
has been a lot of talk in the music radio industry recently about
speech formats not working in commercial terms, but we are proving them
wrong.”

This week he said “TalkSport is just the beginning” and
that there should be a fleet of profitable commercial speech stations
across the country as there are in America and Australia. Under
MacKenzie TWG had plans to develop commercial talk stations across the
UK under the brand allTalk FM. The first of these is due to launch in
Edinburgh later this year. The company has submitted bids to media
regulator Ofcom for FM licences in Manchester and the Solent area.

“I’m
sure Ulster TV will have its own ideas on how to run the company but I
implore them to stay out of the self-satisfied tent of radio executives
who, despite all the evidence to the contrary believe they and the
industry are doing just fine,” said MacKenzie.

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