GCap puts Capital in 'intensive care' over Heart attack

Bernard talks tough on 95.8FM
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Ralph Bernard, chief executive of the radio giant GCap Media, has described its flagship station, Capital Radio 95.8FM, as being "in intensive care".

In an interview in the trade magazine Marketing Week, he added that the company would not spend substantial sums on marketing the station until it was "considerably better".

Listener figures this week will confirm the further decline of Capital, which has been overtaken in the London marketplace by its arch-rival Heart. One of the main reasons has been the lack of success of its breakfast DJ, Johnny Vaughan, who was brought in after the station's long-time favourite Chris Tarrant left. Vaughan's opposite number at Heart, Jamie Theakston, is felt to be more "female friendly".

Mr Bernard has grappled with the weakness of Capital ever since he merged his GWR group with the London station's parent company in 2004. Capital's chief executive, David Mansfield, was ousted last year, and he was soon followed by most of the senior executives.

GCap has hired Scott Muller from the Australian music station Nova 969 to turn Capital around, but he will not arrive until the summer.

Meanwhile, the number of adverts Capital runs has been cut to a maximum of two in each ad break. GCap is expected to release research this week showing that this has gone down well with advertisers.

A spokeswoman for the group said that Mr Bernard's "intensive care" comments about Capital should be regarded positively. "It shows the station is being taken care of and is getting the best possible treatment."

She added that a large advertising campaign had been earmarked for Capital once the quality of programming was there to support such expenditure.