Rajar reports a drop in commercial audience

After several periods of growth, commercial radio has suffered a setback in the second quarter with a fall in its listening audience.

Commercial radio listening stood at 31.58 million adults for the quarter to 23 June, according to the latest Rajar report. This is a decrease of 700,000 listeners year on year and 600,000 period on period.

The Radio Advertising Bureau said the Golden Jubilee and the disruption to radio listening brought by the World Cup were to blame for the fall. However, the BBC also suffered, with a fall in listeners of 300,000 to 32.8 million.

Commercial radio held its period-on-period share of listening with 45.5 per cent to the BBC's 52.6 per cent, but commercial radio's share was down year on year by more than 1 per cent. Two years ago its share of listening was 47.2 per cent. This inability to grow share against the BBC will worry commercial stations and advertisers.

However, the RAB claimed that the long-term picture was good.

The managing director of the RAB, Justin Sampson, said: "While audience growth has not been maintained in this latest set of numbers the long-term picture remains rosy - radio audiences are growing and delivering more audience opportunities."

The majority of the large radio groups were all hit at their key stations, with talkSPORT one of the few exceptions. TalkSPORT added 200,000 listeners over the past year, maintaining a 5 per cent reach with 2.4 million.

Major groups such as Capital and GWR fared less well. Capital's total audience across its networks fell by 270,000 to 7.9 million. Capital FM in London suffered a fall of 70,000 listeners year on year to 2.8 million.

However, its sister station, Capital Gold London, was a success, adding close to 200,000 listeners year on year to reach 1.3 million. However, Xfm hit its lowest audience in the last year, 366,000 in London. However, it increased share of commercial listening to 2.4 per cent.

GWR's Classic FM added 300,000 listeners year on year to reach 6.6 million.

While this marks a loss of 200,000 since its first-quarter high of 6.8 million, it continued to increase share of listening; up from 4.6 per cent to 4.9 per cent period on period.

Virgin's national AM station had a bad year-on-year performance but showed signs of recovery based on the previous quarter. Its 2.49 million listeners was an increase of 18,000 since March but down by 308,000 year on year.

Like other radio groups, Virgin said that the disruption caused by morning World Cup matches hindered it.

Emap's key properties, Magic and Kiss, also suffered. Magic Network lost 110,000 listeners year on year to give it a total of 2.19 million. Kiss in London lost 80,000 listeners, falling to 1.49 million.

Jazz FM, recently purchased by Guardian Media Group, was one of the few success stories. It increased listeners by more than 10 per cent to 1.02 million, a 1.6 per cent share.

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