Commercial Radio loses out to BBC

Latest ratings’ figures from Rajar indicate commercial radio stations in Britain have been too busy worrying about each other and face a real threat from the BBC.

The figures show BBC stations have a record 54.4% share of all radio listening, towering over commercial radio’s depleted share of 43.7%, suggesting heavy promotion on BBC tv has renewed public interest.

The Radio 1 audience is back above 10 million and Radio 2’s dominance is unchallenged at 16.1%. The picture is just as serious in the crucial London market, where BBC has jumped from 51.7% to 54.7%.

BBC Radio and Music Director, Jenny Abramsky, says: “All in all, this is a strong quarter for BBC Radio.”

Simon Bumfrey, Relationship Director in the Barclays Media Team, says: “The figures are good news for the BBC. Chris Moyles has taken a significant slice of the London market from the commercial radio stations and this strong BBC performance at the expense of the commercial sector is also reflected nationally.”

Virgin Radio has accused the BBC of taking advantage of its public service remit to promote its own radio assets: “BBC TV had a very strong summer of programs and sporting events and continued to shamelessly cross promote and advertise its radio shows, especially Radio 1 and 5 Live. It is, therefore, no surprise to see these two networks do so well and commercial radio suffer.”

In the London market, the news is good for Capital, which must have been dreading having its breakfast share overtaken by Heart. Capital 95.8FM increased its share to 7.2% compared to Heart FM’s 6.5%.

Despite staying ahead of Heart, Capital’s star signing, Johnny Vaughan needs time to find his audience, losing more listeners (down from 1.19 million to 1.05 million).

Capital Radio Chief Executive, David Mansfield, insists the station can weather the storm: “The recent changes to the Capital FM line up, and the breakfast show in particular, were designed to attract new listeners. As anticipated, some listeners have tried other stations at breakfast.

“However, the station as a whole has seen growth across the rest of the day. Johnny Vaughan is proving to be a significant radio talent and we confidently predict he will win new listeners and build audiences over the next two years.”

Capital has also announced that Vaughan’s co-presenter, Becky Jago, will leave at Christmas.

Heart’s Jono and Harriet breakfast show has also lost listeners, down to 797 000 from 971 000. The surprise breakfast winner is Magic 105.4 FM, with Graham Dene attracting an extra 42 000 listeners and moving from fourth to third, overtaking Classic FM.