Jazz FM owners to bid for Melody Radio

Golden Rose Communications, owner of the radio station, Jazz FM, is understood to have put in a bid for Melody Radio, the London station controlled by Hanson.

Hanson, which has been refocusing on building materials, put Melody up for sale last month, and a number of companies submitted bids at the end of last week. Melody, an easy listening station which broadcasts on FM, could be worth around pounds 18m, and would present Golden Rose with an opportunity to extend its jazz brand.

Other bidders could include Capital Radio, which last week lost out to Chris Evans' Ginger Productions in the battle for Virgin Radio. GWR, Scottish and Chrysalis are also possible contenders. Richard Wheatly, group chief executive of Golden Rose, would not comment on Melody, but the company has made no secret of its desire to grow through licence applications and acquisitions.

Mr Wheatly yesterday unveiled losses before tax of pounds 987,460 for the year to the end of September. Last year's profits of pounds 257,600 were inflated by a pounds 3m gain from the sale of Viva!, the ailing women's station. Operating losses were reduced from pounds 2.5m to pounds 1.1m.

Golden Rose has been extending the Jazz FM brand into related merchandise such as records. A new double album compilation is due out in January, to co-incide with a big marketing campaign for the station. A themed restaurant in Liverpool, the Cafe Jazbar, opened in April. Further restaurant openings - part of a joint venture with Regent Inns - will follow next year in London and the North-west, where Jazz FM broadcasts.

Mr Wheatly, who joined Golden Rose two years ago, at a time when the group was suffering from its decision to set up Viva!, said yesterday he was pleased that the operating losses had been reduced.

The London Jazz FM station grew revenue by 25 per cent, while advertising sales in the North- west franchise were seven per cent higher than in the previous year. Sponsorship income meanwhile increased by 184 per cent to pounds 704,000, and several blue-chip companies became sponsors of the two stations for the first time.

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