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Times Of India has defended its Virgin Radio UK acquisition, saying it will take time to make the renamed Absolute Radio a success in Britain. Absolute lost about a fifth of its radio listeners (about 500,000) since the £52.3 million June purchase, according to the first Rajar returns since the deal, and Virgin Radio International president Ian Grace last month told contentSutra.com B&C is “out of its depth in London”.
But AP Parigi, MD and CEO of Times Infotainment Media, told me during a panel at MediaGuardian’s Changing Media Summit in London: “We had planned for a year or two where there would be a dip. When you replace a 15-year-old iconic brand, it’s going to take time to take off. We expect it to pick up. We do have a comment – there’s a structural problem on how Rajar data is collected; a lot of people are saying ‘I heard Virgin last week.”
“Radio is integral to the English life. With Absolute, the bulk of the revenues are coming from digital, the DAB and internet side. There’s a very high quality of people there. We are seeing revenue pick up.” Parigi revealed B&C considered US acquisitions: “We have scanned the US market for five years. But we said there’s a great opportunity in the UK” – the competition rules, comparatively, are “so clean, so straightforward”