Reuters Radio News has won the contract to supply news to Virgin 1215 and its new London service.
The move is being seen as a boost to Reuters’ hopes of offering a rival syndicated radio news service to Independent Radio News.
IRN, jointly owned by major commercial radio groups, supplies 124 stations. It is offered free. Advertising around the bulletins, available through the Newslink package sold by Capital Radio-owned Media Sales & Marketing, goes towards IRN’s costs.
RRN, launched by Reuters last year, supplies London Radio and regional stations Heart FM and Scot FM. It is offered to stations through subscription. Although airtime sales is not a Reuters priority, commercial packages are being developed by Independent Radio Sales.
With Capital Radio’s growing influence over the commercial radio network through a string of recent acquisitions, some in non-Capital owned stations are championing Reuters as a new alternative.
“There is little doubt that the Reuters service is superior, but that for the time being its penetration is low. That’s why the Virgin deal marks a significant step forward – a major endorsement,” says one.
IRS managing director Stan Park adds: “Its potential is huge. They’re coming to it fresh with so many resources. Already we have struck and are discussing further advertising deals.”
However, the impact for advertisers of a possible extension of RRN’s business remains unclear.
Newslink remains a valuable airtime package offering one-stop access to virtually the entire radio network, says one media buyer. “It makes sense to have one sales package, not two. Ultimately, there can only be room for one.”
Virgin stresses it intends to handle any sales around the ew news bulletins in-house. RRN will take over from its existing news supplier, Chiltern Radio-backed Network News, on April 1.