Pagefield wins brief to fight TalkSport's corner as BBC review looms.

TalkSport has hired extra lobbying firepower as it looks to build its profile with Westminster opinion formers and take on its main competitor, BBC Radio 5 Live.

Profile boost: TalkSport's new signings Andy Gray and Richard Keys
Profile boost: TalkSport's new signings Andy Gray and Richard Keys

The commercial radio station, owned by UTV Media, has turned to newly established consultancy Pagefield for a lobbying drive with a strong focus on the BBC Trust's forthcoming review of BBC Radio 5 Live.

Pagefield is run by former ITV corporate affairs director Mark Gallagher.

The BBC Radio 5 Live review, due imminently, will be among the first such reviews conducted by new BBC Trust chairman, Lord Patten. The aim is to set out what the trust expects Radio 5 Live to achieve and how much it can spend.

UTV media director of strategy Jimmy Buckland said: 'TalkSport is enjoying record popularity with audiences. However, working with Pagefield will help us raise our profile among a wider group of opinion formers. This is particularly important as the BBC Trust embarks on the first major review of BBC Radio Five Live, prompting a debate about the BBC's role in the speech radio market.'

Talk Sport's presenters include a host of former footballers, as well as ex-Sky Sports duo Andy Gray and Richard Keys. The station has a weekly reach of 3,088,000 and has seen its total market share climb up to 2.3 per cent, according to the most recent Rajar figures. This compares with a 5.3 per cent share of the market for BBC Radio 5 Live.

The BBC Trust confirmed earlier this year that Radio 5 Live would face a review in early 2011, in line with the trust's duty to review all of the BBC's UK public services within a five-year period.

Other BBC services to be reviewed in 2011 are Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, BBC News, BBC Parliament, BBC Local Radio and Asian Network.

Talk Sport is the third big-name client win in recent weeks for Pagefield, following the news that ITN and Camelot have both brought in the agency for corporate and public affairs support.

Last month, the agency was also boosted by the hire of Fishburn Hedges' highly regarded associate director Simon Redfern, who will help to set up a digital comms and public affairs practice. (PRWeek, 11 March).

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