Commercial news stations enjoy boom time in London with rise in reach

Commercial news stations are surging in strength in the capital according to this quarter’s RAJAR figures.

In London, LBC 97.3 FM achieved a 25 per cent increase in reach year on year to 671,000 and AM station LBC News 1152 recorded a 35 per cent year on year rise to 266,000.

Despite a 5.2 per cent drop in reach year on year, Radio 4 remained the most listened to station in London with 2.3 million listeners.

BBC London 94.9 recorded a 25.8 per cent drop in reach year on year for the period from January to March to 365,000.

LBC station manager David Lloyd said: “The message is getting across that finally there is a rolling news service for the capital city.”

Paul Brown, CEO of the Commercial Radio Companies Association, hit back at BBC director general Mark Thompson’s earlier public comments that the BBC doesn’t have an impact on commercial stations.

He said: “Only if you have a large state slush fund supporting all of your ventures can you afford to say that your activities have no effect on the commercial world. It’s clearly nonsense.

“The fact of the matter is that we have to fight hard against the BBC and the BBC is performing particularly well.

That does have an impact on our ability to sell advertising, because clearly what we are selling is listeners.”

National commercial ratio took a record 10.5 per cent share of all UK listening this quarter, while local commercial radio took a 74 per cent share of all local listening in the UK.

The RAJARs also brought to light revelations about the effect of new technologies on radio listening across the country.

According to RAJAR, some 21.2 per cent of 15-24s listen to radio on their mobiles compared to just 6.4 per cent of the total phone-owning adult population.

The figures revealed that those who claim to own a DAB set or have listened to the radio via digital television or the internet, now comprise more than half of the UK adult 15-plus audience population.

Next quarter will include figures on podcasting. The decision to record figures in this format was described by a RAJAR spokesperson as “dipping a toe into the water” as the initial surveys will be very general.

Listeners will be asked if they listen to podcasts and how often they do so.

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