After 22 years in the publishing industry, Stephen Miron is quitting Associated Newspapers to become chief executive of Global Group’s radio division.
His move from Associated, where he is managing director of The Mail on Sun-day and Mail Online, into radio has surprised many. He has spent a total of 16 years with the publisher during his career.
But those close to Miron say he has been “look-ing around” and was last year linked to the ITV managing director of brand and commercial role, which was subsequently filled by Rupert Howell.
Miron is not expected to step into his new role until next year. It is believed he will focus heavily on the commercial aspect of the business as well as its day-to-day running, reporting to Global Group founder and chief executive Ashley Tabor, who will continue to handle the wider group development.
His appointment comes two weeks after the Office of Fair Trading approved Global’s takeover of GCap Media. The enlarged group’s radio brands include Capital 95.8, Classic FM and Heart, but it must yet dispose of several stations in the Midlands.
Industry observers say Miron found himself unable to advance, with group managing director Kevin Beatty and Guy Zitter, managing director of the Daily Mail and group commer-cial director, entrenched in their positions.
Carat managing director Neil Jones says: “Steve is fiercely ambitious and Guy and Kevin aren’t going anywhere quickly, certainly not in the next three to four years. So I think he saw that it was time to look at other opportunities.”
One source adds that Zitter “has got more power than Miron” because he’s in charge of a broader revenue stream. “A lot of people talk about Steve as the golden boy, next in line for big things,” he says. “But nothing’s ever happened. Guy’s an incredibly strong in-dividual and a hugely clever politician in the workplace, while Kevin is the driving force behind it all, with the managing directors underneath him.”
The rise of the ‘golden boy’The tag of “golden boy” has followed Miron through-out his rise within Associated’s ranks. He joined in 1988, spending ten years as advertisement manager for The Mail on Sunday. He then moved to work as commercial director for rival The Independent and Independent on Sunday until 2002. He rejoined Daily Mail & General Trust-owned Associated in its new ventures business, before becoming managing director of The Mail on Sunday in 2003.
Independent News & Media commercial director Daryl Fielding says those who worked with him describe him as “hugely respected, bright and charismatic”. But another insider says “the only thing he’s done in life is be charismatic”.
There are those who point to his “innovative” tie-up with recording artist Prince, whose last album was given away free with the Sunday title, as proof of his headline-grabbing style.
But Media Planning Group managing partner, Mark Craze says Miron’s position of power at Associated is proof enough that he is not just charismatic and “fluffy”. “The bottom line is that only Associated sees the numbers he delivers. When you’re at the top there’s nowhere to hide, he’s in charge of the P&L [profit and loss] which is the key metric. If you don’t deliver the numbers then you’re out. So my assumption is he does,” Craze says.
This year Miron oversaw the relaunch of its newspaper website, which briefly eclipsed long-term market leader Guardian.co.uk.
But within the Sunday newspaper market, circulation continues to look glum, recording a year-on-year average fall of 4.44%, according to the latest ABC figures for the six months to July.
Yet while some of its rivals are falling by up to 12% year on year, The Mail on Sunday recorded a 2.54% decline. In July it was one of the few titles to record an increase, albeit by a small 0.1%. However, Associated’s acquisition of Ireland on Sunday in 2001, rebadged as the Irish Mail on Sunday in 2006, has no doubt helped to bolster this figure.
‘Inspired’ choiceGiven his success at Associated, many concede his appointment is an “inspired” one. Martin Bowley, chairman of the British Television Advertising Awards and previously head of sales at Carlton, says: “Radio is in such a terrible place at the moment. The last people you want to be running radio are radio people. It’s going to take someone like Steve to turn it around and if there’s anybody that’s going to be able to merchandise his contacts, it’s him.” vLeader, page 17