Rajar figures reveal lift in commercial sector

Commercial radio has reclaimed some of its listeners at the expense of the BBC, according to Rajar listening figures for the second quarter of 2003.

The commercial sector's audience share had dropped by 1 per cent to 44.5 per cent during the first quarter of the year as the BBC witnessed a 0.9 per cent rise in listeners.

But recent figures have shown people are returning to commercial stations as the sector's audience share rose by 0.4 per cent for the quarter. However, its share is still down 0.6 per cent year on year.

The BBC stations Radio 2 and Radio 4 proved most popular, but they too experienced a loss of listeners.

In the battle for London listeners, led by 95.8 Capital FM and Heart 106.2, Capital reclaimed the number-one spot. It now reaches an additional 211,000 listeners with 2.6 million people in the capital tuning in. Its share has risen from 8.1 per cent to 8.9 per cent - the biggest increase recorded by any London station this quarter. But its share is still well down over the whole year.

Following the development of its new breakfast slot from 5am to 10am, an additional 75,000 Londoners are waking up to the format led by Chris Tarrant.

David Mansfield, Capital Radio's chief executive, said: "These results show that 95.8 Capital FM remains London's most popular radio station. Our priority is to win back listeners and get them listening longer. We have taken the first steps by improving our music, breakfast show format and presenter line-up but the real fight is just beginning."

Another strong performer was Jazz FM London. The specialist station boosted its share by 0.4 per cent, and now pulls in 744,000 adult listeners. TalkSPORT lost listeners for the quarter: its share fell by 0.3 per cent.

The trend for tuning into digital stations shows no signs of flagging with Emap's Kerrang! and Smash Hits stations both holding on to their 0.3 per cent share. Kerrang! pulled in an average of 773,000 listeners, a 0.3 per cent rise since the figures were last released back in March.

Magic 105.4 maintained its momentum to increase market share by almost 1 per cent on last year's figures.

Emap's Kiss 100 increased its reach in London to 1.6 million - a 9 per cent rise on the previous quarter and up 8 per cent year on year.

Mark Story, the managing director of radio programming at Emap, said: "The figures released for our digital radio stations demonstrate the strength of the format and its rising popularity among consumers. We are particularly delighted with Kiss and fully expect it to overtake Virgin Radio in the next survey."

"Our performance overall shows that digital radio has really arrived."

Radio stations ranked by share of listening June 2003.

Share of Share of Change

listening % listening % %

June 2003 June 2002

All Commercial 44.9 45.5 -0.6

All BBC network 40.8 41.3 -0.5

All local commercial radio 36.5 37.5 -1

95.8 Capital FM 8.9 10.3 -1.4

Heart 106.2 6.7 5.8 +0.9

Kiss 100FM 4.6 4.2 +0.4

Classic FM 4.5 4.9 -0.4

Magic 105.4 4.4 3.5 +0.9

Jazz FM (London) 2.0 1.6 +0.4

TalkSPORT 1.6 1.8 -0.2

104.9 Xfm 1.1 1.3 -0.2

Virgin RadioAM 1.1 1.2 -0.1

RADIO STATIONS RANKED BY SHARE OF LISTENING JUNE 2003

Share of Share of Change

listening % listening % %

June 2003 June 2002

All commercial 44.9 45.5 -0.6

All BBC network 40.8 41.3 -0.5

All local commercial radio 36.5 37.5 -1.0

95.8 Capital FM 8.9 10.3 -1.4

Heart 106.2 6.7 5.8 +0.9

Kiss 100 FM 4.6 4.2 +0.4

Classic FM 4.5 4.9 -0.4

Magic 105.4 4.4 3.5 +0.9

Jazz FM (London) 2.0 1.6 +0.4

TalkSPORT 1.6 1.8 -0.2

104.9 Xfm 1.1 1.3 -0.2

Virgin Radio AM 1.1 1.2 -0.1

Source: Rajar.