SMG To Spin Off Virgin Radio, Europe’s First Online Broadcaster

SMG, the troubled media group that owns two ITV franchises in Scotland, will spin off its otherwise successful Virgin Radio business to reduce debt and concentrate on its core TV assets (Reuters). SMG has endured a torrid couple of years thanks in part to falling ad revenue across the ITV network; in an annual results statement in which it announced the Virgin sale today, SMGreported a 46 percent fall in pre-tax profits to £9.7 million ($20 million).
Virgin Radio, which started out on the AM waveband and was formerly owned by Sir Richard Branson and entertainer Chris Evans, is innovative in delivering to a multitude of platforms. The first European radio station to broadcast online (in 1996), it has held steady market share since 2002 and is available on the UK’s national digital radio network, cable and satellite TV, mobile phones, internet streams in a range of formats and, from this week, even on games consoles. Virgin Radio is unrelated to Branson’s Virgin Media telecoms and TV group (formerly ntl/Telewest plus Virgin Mobile), but might Branson be interested in regaining his radio station?
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