Sky News is bidding to take over Talk Radio’s news service from Independent Radio News (IRN), which has provided news since the station launched in 1995.
IRN’s contract expires at the end of this year and Talk Radio managing director Kelvin MacKenzie has been hearing pitches from both parties to decide who will take up the contract next year.
Sources at the radio station say MacKenzie is expected to make a decision in a few weeks.
IRN has had a virtual monopoly over providing news for commercial radio; it supplies 216 of the UK’s 230 commercial radio stations.
The company is estimated to make profits of about 10m a year, as revenues from ads on either side of the news bulletin are sold on behalf of the news provider.
IRN managing director John Perkins says: “It is up to Talk Radio to talk to anyone it wants to about who provides its news service for the new year.” There is speculation that if Sky does win this contract it will go on to bid for other stations.
Sky already has a growing relationship with the station. Last week Talk announced that it would take a service from Sky Sports News. News Corporation, which owns 40 per cent of Sky, has a 20 per cent stake in Talk.
News Corporation is increasing its interest in radio. It has a programming partnership, through Sky, with Virgin Radio’s Chris Evans’ breakfast show, which is broadcast on Sky One each weekday morning.
Feature, page 28