- Commercial radio has recorded its highest ever share of listening in RAJAR's second quarterly figures for 1998, with a 51.1 per cent share of the marketplace over the BBC's 46.8 per cent share.
The 4.3 per cent gap is the largest yet, and makes commercial radio the market leader for the sixth quarter in a row.
The recent battle over CLT-Ufa's UK radio interests does does not appear to have adversely affected listening of Talk Radio, with its reach of 2,267,000 in the first quarter 1998 rising to 2,575,000 -- an illustration of the success of its World Cup coverage. Atlantic 252, the other station on offer, however, has seen a quarter-on-quarter drop in reach of 127,000 listeners to 2,971,000.
The World Cup audience wasn't enough to prevent BBC Radio 5 Live from recording a fall in reach from 5,553,000 to 5,221,000 quarter-on-quarter, however. Radios 1, 2, and 3 also saw a drop in reach, but Radio 4's new schedule has brought in 93,000 more listeners, up to 8,254,000.
Virgin Radio's national listeners including AM and FM have risen from 4,206,000 to 4,244,000. Classic FM's share is up year-on-year from 3.3 per cent to 3.7 per cent and its reach has remained over the five million mark with 5,045,000.
In London, Capital FM retains its hold as the most-listened to station with 2,695,000 listeners. Heart 106.2 has overtaken Capital Gold for the second quarter in a row, and its share of listening is up to 6.1 per cent from 5.4 per cent. Kiss FM has seen its London share fall by 0.4 per cent to 2.4 per cent, although it has increased its reach and hours.
Liberty Radio's relaunch as a seventies-style station has not helped improve its performance. Its share of the London market has halved from 0.2 per cent to 0.1 per cent, and Liberty lost 14,000 listeners to 123,000 per week, with listeners also cutting back their listening time by an hour to 1.8 hours per week.
Of the other London stations, Jazz FM has seen a small drop in reach to 537,000 from 561,000, but its sister station in the north west has seen a rise of 91,000 to 304,000, giving the combined network its highest yet reach. Xfm -- recently bought by Capital -- has put on a healthy 110,000 listeners this quarter to 329,000 and increased its share from 0.6 to 0.9 per cent. LBC has increased its share to 3.2 from 2.8, though its reach has fallen. News Direct has increased its reach by 16,000 to 340,000, although its hours and reach have fallen.