Rajar: LBC News audience grows despite cutbacks

A decision by London radio station LBC News to scale back its rolling news coverage appears to have gone unnoticed by listeners, with the station posting its best audience figures since 2004.

According to the latest set of audience data from Rajar, covering the period from mid-June to mid-September, LBC News has gained 65,000 listeners over the past year – a 23.2 per cent year-on-year increase in weekly audience to 345,000.

The result is the station’s best weekly reach since March 2004 and represents an 18.6 per cent rise compared with the previous quarter, when it had 291,000 listeners.

LBC News announced at the beginning of August that it would close down at 7pm each evening and simulcast its sister station LBC 97.3 overnight because ‘the high cost of the service [meant] it was no longer possible to sustain rolling news as a 24-hour format”.

LBC 97.3 also posted a rise in listeners within the capital, helped by a busy news agenda during the parliamentary recess including the global economic crisis and the run-up to US presidential election.

The station – which celebrated its 35th anniversary this month – recorded a 10.4 per cent year-on-year increase in its weekly audience to 647,000.

This also represents an 8.9 per cent increase on the previous quarter, between mid-April and mid-June, when the station had 594,000 listeners.

But LBC’s listenership outside of London on digital radio fell 0.8 per cent this quarter, down from 845,000 to 838,000.

The station’s breakfast show, presented by journalist Nick Ferrari, lost 37,000 listeners over the summer – down 9.4 per cent quarter on quarter to 355,000. Its audience also fell 5.6 per cent year on year.

BBC Radio 4 remains the most listened-to station in London with 2.42m listeners. Its nationwide weekly audience fell 0.9 per cent compared with the previous quarter, but was up two per cent year on year to 9.45m.

The Today programme lost 148,000 listeners over the summer but was up 3.4 per cent compared with the same period last year, with a reach of 6.11m.

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