Viva! pulls out stops to reverse ailing fortunes

Troubled London radio station Viva! is pinning its hopes on improvements to the quality of its transmission, which it aims to introduce in the late spring.

Last week, the station axed three presenters, a producer, some freelances and a member of the marketing team in an attempt to cut costs. Discussions are underway with NTL – which provides transmission facilities – to boost the power of the signal.

Richard Wheatly, chief executive of Viva! parent Golden Rose Communications, insists there is no question over GRC’s continued support of the station: “We wouldn’t have taken these latest measures if we were not committed to Viva!”

However, the advertising industry is concerned at the cuts which, it fears, will jeopardise the station’s already fragile audience further.

According to one source: “Either GRC should cut its losses or take comfort from Talk Radio UK which is finally turning the corner after an equally disastrous start.”

Investment in the station’s output should be raised, not cut, the source adds.

The Radio Authority is monitoring the situation. It is not within its remit to withdraw a station’s licence, unless a licensee fails to meet terms and conditions, a spokeswoman says.

Although unwilling to comment publicly about the specifics of Viva!’s case, the RA is understood to have little sympathy for the station’s claim that its main problem has been the poor quality of its transmission.

“They decided to situate their transmitter in west London – it’s their responsibility,” an RA source says.

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