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Colin Murray quits TalkSport after Sun owner buys the station

By | Published on Thursday 14 July 2016

Colin Murray

Former Radio 1 DJ Colin Murray has announced he is quitting his most recent radio gig, hosting mornings on TalkSport, after it was announced that the station is to be acquired by Sun publisher News UK, the British wing of Rupert Murdoch’s publishing business.

As previously reported, TalkSport was owned by Belfast-based media firm UTV which also operated the ITV channel in Northern Ireland. But the company sold its TV assets to ITV plc last year, rebranding as the standalone radio business Wireless Group back in March.

It was then announced last month that the UK wing of Murdoch’s News Corp was buying the Wireless Group, which has recently expanded its portfolio of British radio outlets with the launch of a number of digital channels, including the all new Virgin Radio.

But Murray isn’t happy with the prospect of working for The Sun publisher. In a statement posted to Twitter, the DJ said: “I have resigned from my morning show on TalkSport due to a change of ownership, with the Wireless Group being bought by News Corp. While there are parts of News Corp that aren’t a problem, it is the inevitable future working relationship between TalkSport and The Sun that has made my position unsustainable”.

He continued: “Commercially, I delivered all-time record ratings and creatively, I was left alone to mould a show of which I was intensely proud. I had been offered a new contract until 2019”. After thanking his team and co-presenters, he added: “Most importantly, thanks for listening. My last show will be on September 2nd. I shall not be commenting further”.

Although he didn’t go into any details about the specific problems he has with The Sun, the fact he signed off with the hashtag #JFT96 – “Justice for the 96” – tells us that for Murray, as a Liverpool supporter, the tabloid’s coverage of the 1989 Hillsborough tragedy, in which 96 fans of the club died, was a key factor.

Of course The Sun’s infamous coverage of that incident at the time, in which it presented wholly unsubstantiated and since debunked allegations against Liverpool fans, remains sufficiently controversial to this day that the tabloid’s sales are nominal on Merseyside.

Confirming Murray’s departure, a spokesman for TalkSport said: “It is with much regret that, after three years of working with us, Colin Murray has taken the decision to move on from his presenting role at TalkSport this September. Colin has been a fantastic asset to the station and, while we respect his decision, we will be very sorry to lose him. We wish him all the best for the future”.