MEDIA: Radio research is questioned

The BBC and commercial radio stations are to meet with radio research body RAJAR this week to discuss the future of RAJAR’s controversial and discredited new method of measuring audiences.

The BBC and commercial radio stations are to meet with radio research

body RAJAR this week to discuss the future of RAJAR’s controversial and

discredited new method of measuring audiences.



The new system came under heavy attack last week for being unreliable

after RAJAR admitted that the figures for the fourth quarter of 1995 had

been adjusted to bring them into line with previous quarters’ figures -

an acknowledgement that the industry had lost count of its listeners.



The RAJAR listening figures are crucial for the radio industry, which

uses the data to drive advertising rates and to promote a station’s

strength in the market against rivals.



RAJAR chief executive Roger Gane denied that any damage had been done

and declined to comment on how much the change in the methodology had

cost.



RAJAR shifted from a system where over 50,000 survey respondents use

pencils to tick stations in pre-printed diaries to applying coloured

stickers of the stations they listen to.



However, RAJAR found that young people did not always use the stickers,

particularly when they were listening for only short periods of time.



The methodology was changed to take account of the rapidly expanding

number of commercial radio stations which, in London alone, now stands

at 22.



The BBC, which joined the commercial radio industry in 1992 in the

setting up of RAJAR, the replacement for the previous JICRAR, was

remaining tight-lipped about the fourth quarter data, which shows that

BBC Radio’s share has dropped to 47.2 per cent.



Despite the extra competition, due to the launch of Heart FM, Viva! and

Premier in 1995, Capital Radio managed to maintain its position as the

number one station in London, adding 26,000 listeners in the past three

months and increasing listening hours by 1.4 million. It is still one

million listeners ahead of nearest competitor Radio 4.



Classic FM, which increased its listening hours by nine per cent and its

reach by two per cent to 4.7 million listeners, is the UK’s number one

national station.



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