'Dramatic period for news' boosts Today's audience

By Caitlin Pike

BBC Radio 4’s Today programme now has a reach of 6.32 million,
having gained 154,000 listeners in the past year, according to the
latest Rajar figures.

In London, Today is the most listened to breakfast programme,
gaining 236,000 listeners in the past 12 months, taking its London
reach to 1.89 million – an 18.7 per cent share.

The boost for
Today came in the period March to June this year, before the terrorist
attacks on London, but which encompassed other major news stories.

A
Today spokesman said: “With the General Election, the death of Pope
John Paul II, the ongoing crisis in Darfur and the EU referendum
results, it was a busy and dramatic period for news.”

Overall,
Radio 4’s weekly reach for the second quarter of 2005 was 9.59 million
listeners, compared with 9.51 million this time last year.

BBC radio has recorded its second highest weekly reach since Rajar measurement started, at 32.89 million.

Commercial
news and talk station LBC gained 238,000 listeners across the UK in the
second quarter of 2005. The station had a weekly reach of 877,000
listeners, a 37.2 per cent increase quarter-on-quarter and an 8.7 per
cent rise year-on-year.

A spokesman for LBC said: “These figures
are breakfast led – Nick Ferrari has had a great Rajar. We haven’t had
any major changes in programming, but we have a very strong daily
schedule with great presenters including Sandi Toksvig and David
Prever. We’ve got loyal listeners who listen to LBC for a long time and
they are growing.”

TalkSport, the UK’s national commercial talk
station, has also increased its reach. Year-on-year, its listenership
has risen by 2.6 per cent to 2.2 million. The BBC is still ahead of
commercial radio in share of total listening at 54 per cent compared
with commercial radio’s 44 per cent. But local commercial radio has a
33 per cent share of listening compared with local BBC radio’s share of
10.9 per cent.

Rajar figures also show that multimedia is not
luring people away from radio, they are just accessing it indifferent
ways. The percentage of adults listening to radio via digital
television and on the internet continues to rise. In June 2003, 20 per
cent of adults had listened to radio via their TV; two years later,
32.4 per cent claim to have listened to radio in this way. In June
2003, 14 per cent of adults had listened to radio over the internet,
while in June 2005 nearly 19 per cent had done so.

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