Capital Stems Radio Audience Loss; MacKenzie Rails at RAJAR

04 August 2003

Capital Radio’s Capital FM, London’s leading station which in Q1 saw its audience share slide to 8.1%, got its act together in Q2 and boosted its slice of the capital’s listening cake to 8.9%. Arch-adversary Heart 106.2 also increased its quota over the same period, up from 6.2% to 6.7% – its largest ever audience share.

Overall in Q2, commercial radio prospered at the expense of the publicly-owned BBC. In aggregate, the ad-funded stations registered a 0.5% increase in listeners while the BBC shed the same percentage.

Of the latter’s radio portfolio, Radio 2 continued its strong performance, its share increasing from 15.7% in Q1 to 16.3% in the second quarter. Radio 1 (pop music), Radio 4 (current affairs) and Radio Five Live (sport) all lost share, while that of classical music and culture station Radio 3 remained static.

And while the big boys were slugging it out, the minnow with the megaphone, Wireless Group’s Kelvin MacKenzie continued his strident feud with radio measurement organization RAJAR (Radio Joint Audience Research).

Mackenzie, in his glory days editor of all-powerful daily tabloid The Sun, is now ceo of Rupert Murdoch’s relatively puny UK radio operation which owns the national TalkSport station plus thirteen local sub-brands. The former Sun King is crying a vociferous ‘foul’ against RAJAR whose research methodology, he alleges, is flawed.

The latest RAJAR data issued last week, credits TalkSport with 2.16 million listeners; Mackenzie claims his own research (via GfK) has found 7.2 million. The former’s data is based on manual diary-keeping, GfK’s via a wristwatch-style electronic gizmo –the more accurate method by far, MacKenzie insists.

In July, he labelled RAJAR “charlatans”, responsible for a “disgraceful” decision by “vested interests behind closed doors”. He also threatened: "I am considering a lawsuit against RAJAR. After fifteen months, the industry that prides itself in technology simply says no to electronic measurement.”

And despite the widespread belief that Mackenzie is to rational argument what Enron is to corporate ethics, some industry onlookers believe he’s got a point!

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff