Rajars: TalkSport fails to score from Euro 2008

The home nations' failure to qualify for Euro 2008 has hit the listening figures for commercial speech station TalkSport, but BBC Radio Five Live appears to have been unaffected.

Newly released data from audience measurement body Rajar has revealed today that TalkSport shed 86,000 listeners in the three months to 22 June – a period which includes most of the Euro 2008 tournament but does not include the Wimbledon tennis championships.

TalkSport, which is owned by Ulster Television, posted a weekly audience of 2.38m, down 3.5 per cent on the quarter but up 0.5 per cent on the same period last year.

Its BBC rival, Five Live, recorded a 0.3 per cent decline in weekly audience during the quarter and narrowly avoided falling below the six million-listener mark.

But when the audience for digital spin-off station Five Live Sports Extra is factored in, total audiences rose 0.5 per cent quarter on quarter and 0.2 per cent year on year to a total of 6.12m.

UTV gets Edinburgh talking

TalkSport's sister station, the Edinburgh all-speech station Talk 107, recorded an audience boost after a number of major programming changes.

The first news and discussion station to launch outside London reported a 58 per cent year-on-year increase in listeners to 41,000, according to the latest listening data released this morning by Rajar.

The figure is the second-highest for Talk 107 since its February 2006 launch, but is still some way behind the 151,000-listener target set by UTV when it first applied to Ofcom for the new station in 2004.

The increase in audience follows a series of programming changes at the station, which provides a 24-hour speech service to Edinburgh and the surrounding areas including news, features and topical discussions.

Breakfast presenter Susan Morrisonn, programme director Mike Graham and veteran talk show presenter Scottie McClue all left the station in March.

Talk 107 also parted company with weekend presenter Tommy Sheridan, the former Socialist MSP, who was described by a station spokesman at the time of his departure as too "confrontational".

"These are the first figures since we made some major programming changes to the station earlier in the year," said Talk 107 station director Matt Allitt.

"The results prove what we already knew. Provide Edinburgh with engaging, entertaining and highly informative radio, and they will listen."

Ferrari lags behind

London talk station LBC has fallen back after reporting its highest weekly audience since records began in the last set of Rajar results.

 

The station, which has veteran journalist Nick Ferrari as its breakfast host, lost 107,000 listeners over three months – down 15.3 per cent to 594,000.

It follows a record 701,000 audience figure in the first three months of 2008. LBC's figure is down 6.8 per cent on the same period last year.

Ferrari's breakfast show audience fell 10 per cent year on year, down from 407,000 to 366,000.

LBC's sister station, the rolling news service LBC News 1152, has recovered this quarter after posting its worst weekly audience in a year and a half.

The LBC News audience grew by 44.1 per cent quarter on quarter, up from 202,000 to 291,000. This is a 5.8 per cent year-on-year rise.

BBC Radio 4 saw a marginal audience increase year on year, up 0.5 per cent to 9.48m. The Today programme lost 160,000 listeners in the past three months, but is still up 1.2 per cent compared with last year, with 6.26m listeners.

Nicky Campbell and Shelagh Fogarty on Five Live gained an extra 47,000 listeners year on year, up two per cent to 2.34m.

Magazines behind the mic

Mojo Radio was the best-peforming of Bauer's magazine-branded digital radio spin-offs, recording its highest-ever weekly audience, up 44.9 per cent year on year to 329,000.

The recently relaunched Heat Radio fell 3.1 per cent on the quarter but is still up 1.6 per cent year on year with 432,000 listeners.

The effect of the Q Radio relaunch in June will not be known until the next set of results come out. The station fell 26.9 per cent year on year to 277,000.

Overall trends

Radio listening is down slightly on the all-time high that was reported in the second quarter of 2007, when the audience hit 45.6m (91 per cent).

Today, 45.1m people listen to the radio in an average week, representing 89 per cent of the adult population.

Radio listening figures from Rajar are released quarterly and are based on printed diaries filled out by a randomly-selected sample of people. Each year, 130,000 adults are asked to fill in a Rajar diary for a week.

The system has frequently come under fire for its perceived inaccuracy, most famously from former Sun editor Kelvin Mackenzie when he owned nationwide talk radio station TalkSport.

Mackenzie attempted to sue Rajar in 2004, claiming the measurement system gave speech stations such as TalkSport a raw deal and his station was losing out on millions of pounds in advertising revenue as a result.

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