Commercial Radio Australia challenges community survey claims and CBAA responds

Commercial Radio Australia CEO, Joan Warner, has responded to the release of the community radio listenership survey, saying the figures “are interesting if questionable” and has challenged some of the methodology behind the claims, but the CBAA’s Barry Melville rejects Warner’s criticism (see below).

“Obviously in an election period, the timing is good for this sort of figure to be thrown into the mix.”

Comparing the methodology of the survey with the current Nielsen Media Research methodology, Warner says the surveys are quite different: “Official surveys in metropolitan and large regional markets survey around 60,000 people per year, and up to 80,000 in total when surveys are conducted every few years in regional areas.”

She says the figures for the ‘Other AM and FM’ categories have been “pretty consistent”, ranging from 10-15% depending on the market.

“This is a little different and possibly more reliable than calling and asking a question along the lines of ‘have you listened to any of the following stations in the past week/month?’, which I have been advised was part of the process for the CBF survey.”

Commercial Radio Australia’s surveys also have set protocols, that require a minimum amount of time spent listening before that listening is attributed to a particular station, a factor not present in the community radio survey.

Warner says: “it also needs to be remembered that the Other AM/FM figures from NMR surveys are shared between non-subscribing commercial stations such as 2SM and 2KY in Sydney, all communities in the listening area, all narrowcasters in the listening area, SBS services in the listening area and any listening to commercial services which have some overspill or fortuitous coverage from a neighbouring licence area.

“I would think that the results from a large sample over a number of years are a little more reliable than a one off phone survey of only 5000 across the country.

Warner believes that “community stations, that fulfil the charter for which they were given free access to spectrum by the Government, are an integral part of the radio sector,” but she says “exaggerated claims to audience share cannot be allowed to go unchallenged.”

CBAA General Manager Barry Melville disagrees with Joan Warner. He has told radioinfo:


“The CBAA has made no claims that the McNair Community Radio National
Listener Survey measures audience share. The survey measured audience
reach, and found that 45% of the Australia population listen to community
radio in a typical month.

“Ms Warner’s reference to the AC Neilsen figures
for ‘Other AM and FM’ measuring 10-15% of the market is a reference to
audience share, not audience reach – it is like comparing apples and
oranges.”