As with the cable and regional newspaper industries, the UK’s radio
sector has undergone a period of consolidation in recent years, creating
a handful of major players.
With networks often covering many areas of the country, these companies
started branding stations under one name. For example, Emap On Air has
developed the Magic and Big City networks.
Similarly, over the last few years, Chrysalis has been developing the
Galaxy brand. There are now Galaxy stations in Birmingham, Manchester,
Bristol and Leeds. Along the same lines, Capital Radio has its Gold
network and GWR operates a number of Classic Gold stations around the
One of the benefits of networks is that they offer national advertisers
a package through which they can target audience groups. The stations
can also be promoted generically, almost at a national level. Capital,
for example, is known outside London for its Gold stations.
However, some agency buyers have questioned whether the networks really
do connect with a homogeneous audience or whether they are simply used
as a convenient and easy way to sell package deals to advertisers.
Jonathan Gillespie, head of radio at BMP OMD, says: ’Branded networks
are an attractive buying proposition as they can offer a uniform
programming environment, but they have to be real. Just because a set of
stations has one thing in common doesn’t mean that their network name
lends any homogeneity. Sometimes they can be sales tools rather than
reflections of a lifestyle.’
In the graph, the main networks’ audiences are indexed against the
average ’all-adults weekly reach’, represented as 100. For example, the
Galaxy network’s reach percentage for 15- to 24-year-olds is almost
three times higher than the network’s all-adults average. Conversely,
the Capital Gold network has a key audience in the 45- to 54-year-old
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