Commercial radio has lost its leadership of the radio market to the BBC,
as total radio audiences slumped to an all-time low, according to the
latest Rajar figures.
The figures, which relate to the third quarter of this year, also show
that radio’s weekly reach - the yardstick media buyers traditionally use
for planning campaigns - is down both year on year and quarter on
Total radio listening hours fell from more than 840,000 in the third
quarter of 1995 to just over 820,000 this year.
Commercial radio’s listening hours fell from 420,000 to 400,000,
compared with the same period last year. BBC radio’s audience remained
more stable, dipping 466 hours from 401,825 to 401,359 this year.
The figures mean that the BBC has regained the majority share of radio
listening from commercial radio, nudging ahead to 48.9 per cent,
compared with commercial radio’s 48.8 per cent. Last year, the figures
were 47.8 per cent and 50.1 per cent respectively.
There was good news elsewhere for commercial radio as revenues broke
through the pounds 300 million barrier for the first time for the third
quarter of the year. Also, a recent Advertising Association report
showed commercial radio growing at almost three times the rate of the
display advertising marketplace.
The figures have also revealed individual star performers. Classic FM
climbed to its highest share of listening, up from 2.9 per cent for the
same period last year to 3.3 per cent this year.
The relaunched LBC’s share of listening soared 89 per cent year on year,
up from 2.8 per cent as the old News-talk, to 5.3 per cent.
Heart FM, launched last September, had one million listeners - a 35 per
cent increase quarter on quarter.