Commercial radio has recaptured its lead over BBC radio as the
share-of-listening battle between the rivals took a fresh twist this
According to the latest Rajar results, commercial radio overtook the BBC
to record a 49.4 per cent share of listening, 1 per cent ahead of the
BBC’s 48.4 per cent for the first quarter of this year.
Twenty eight million adults tuned in to a commercial radio station each
week, compared with 27.3 million tuning in to the BBC.
Meanwhile, individual results revealed that Capital FM had reaffirmed
its pre-eminent position in London at the expense of Virgin FM.
Year on year, Capital’s share grew 23 per cent, while period on period,
it recorded its highest share of the London market for two years, up
from 15.7 per cent in the last quarter of 1996 to 18 per cent in the
first quarter of 1997.
Virgin FM slumped in London, down from 9 per cent in the last quarter of
last year to 8 per cent this period for weekly reach, and from 3.5 per
cent to 2.8 per cent in share of listening. Year on year, its reach
remained steady but its share of listening fell from 3.4 per cent to 2.8
Nationally, however, the picture was better - with Virgin’s reach steady
at 6 per cent and share of listening up from 2.4 per cent to 2.6 per
cent period on period.
Quarter on quarter, the BBC generally fared poorly. Radio 1 continued to
lose listeners, down from 10.6 million in the last quarter of 1996 to
10.2 million. The one bright spot was Radio 5, up from 3.1 to 3.5 per
cent share quarter on quarter.
Elsewhere, Talk Radio fared badly, down in reach and share of listening
year on year and quarter on quarter.
Rupert Garrett, the head of radio at BBJ Media Services, said: ’The
Chris Evans factor still cuts in. It seems listeners are tuning into
Chris Tarrant or their local stations. In general, ILR has done well.’