Five Live bucks trend as BBC news shows lose listeners

BBC radio’s news and current affairs programmes lost listeners, figures from radio research body Rajar revealed last week.

Radio 4’s flagship news programme Today lost 150,000 listeners between January and March, and twice that amount year-on-year, taking its audience down to 6.2m.

This contributed to Radio 4’s overall decline of 1.5 per cent to 9.4m during the period. Audiences dropped by 7.1 per cent year-on-year, continuing the fall from the 10m mark it reached as the second Gulf war broke war out last March.

On Radio 2, Jeremy Vine the former Newsnight anchor who started a new current affairs show at the station last January, has seen his 5.7m audience inherited from predecessor Jimmy Young slip down to 5.4m, losing 220,000 listeners in the quarter and 270,000 year-on-year.

Radio Five Live, celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, saw an overall rise of 5.7 per cent in the quarter to 6.5m while Nicky Campbell’s breakfast show added an extra 344,000 listeners in the period, taking the audience up to 2.6m. An extra 100,000 listeners to Julian Worricker’s Sundaymorning programme have nudged its audience a little closer to the million mark, at 905,000. But the midday news bulletin – though up by 113,000 in the quarter to 1.1m – lost 48,000 listeners year-on-year.

In the commercial sector, Londonbased LBC 97.3FM continued to impress as its new breakfast presenter, Nick Ferrari, doubled his average audience to 129,000 listeners. LBC 97.3FM has won 250,000 new listeners since its revamp in January last year, a 56 per cent year-on-year rise.

Rajar’s managing director, Sally de la Bedoyere, told Press Gazette that last week the company filed its defence against a £70m damages claim brought by The Wireless Group in March.

TWG claims Rajar’s audience figures for its flagship station, Talksport, are too low at a weekly figure of 1.8 million in the quarter. Using electronic system GfK, TWG has recorded an audience of 6.3m.

TWG is claiming damages of more than £66m in lost advertising revenue, plus up to £1.5m costs, and is pursuing an order that Rajar’s refusal to introduce electronic audience measurement is “unlawful”. De la Bedoyere said she expected the case to “be thrown out” by judges.

By Wale Azeez

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