95.8 Capital FM takes back London top spot

The battle for leadership of the London commercial radio market took another turn last week with 95.8 Capital FM capturing the top slot.

Its rival Heart suffered a 0.2 per cent drop in its share of listening on the previous quarter, while Capital increased its share. However, year on year Capital's share is still down significantly while Heart has added listeners.

Capital's London station increased its listeners over the quarter to 2.3 million, 400,000 more than Heart.

David Mansfield, the chief executive of Capital Radio Group, said: "I am pleased to see that the changes we put into place at 95.8 Capital FM in 2003 are starting to take effect and that we have recaptured our leadership position. At breakfast, the creativity of Chris (Tarrant) and the team has built a solid platform for Johnny Vaughan's arrival"

However, Heart's owner, Chrysalis, believes that Tarrant's departure and the arrival of Vaughan will present it with the opportunity to pick up loyal Tarrant listeners at breakfast time.

Commercial radio suffered a slight drop in its overall share of listening with local commercial stations worst hit. National commercial's share of listening increased by close to 2 per cent on the back of the launch of several national digital stations.

Emap's Big City network lost 400,000 listeners year on year but its 3.1 million listeners give it a 13.5 per cent share of national listening.

Its Magic and Kiss stations both lost share in London, based on the same period in 2002.

TalkSPORT posted a large year-on-year audience drop, losing half-a-million listeners to 1.87 million. However, it lost just 40,000 listeners in the final quarter. Virgin Radio lost 200,000 viewers on the same period in 2002 to post a 1.4 per cent share of national listening with 2.6 million listeners. Classic FM lost 400,000 listeners over the year, falling to a 4.3 per cent national share with 6.2 million listeners.


Share of Share of

listening % listening % change %

Dec 2003 Dec 2002

All commercial 45.3 45.5 -0.2

All BBC network 42.0 41.5 0.5

All local commercial 35.7 37.9 -2.2

London local stations

95.8 Capital FM 7.8 8.8 -1.0

Heart 106.2 FM 7.0 6.0 1.0

Magic 105.4 4.5 4.6 -0.1

Kiss 100 4.0 4.9 -0.9

LBC 97.3 2.5 2.1 0.4

Source: Rajar

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