MacKenzie Delivers Ultimatum to UK's RAJAR

27 November 2003

Outspoken UK radio boss Kelvin MacKenzie is threatening the country's ratings service with court action before Christmas if the two sides cannot make peace in one final meeting.

The latest comments from MacKenzie -- a former tabloid editor and now chairman of Rupert Murdoch-controlled radio minnow The Wireless Group -- are part of a long-running campaign to change the way RAJAR (Radio Joint Audience Research) assesses ratings.

The measurement group currently uses a diary system, which MacKenzie believes discriminates against smaller stations such as TWG's TalkSPORT. He favours an electronic methodology, and earlier this year commissioned GfK to conduct a rival ratings survey using electronic wristwatches.

Although RAJAR is investigating the adoption of an electronic system, it has so far rejected all the available technology -- much to the annoyance of MacKenzie.

The two sides are to hold last-ditch talks on December 18, and the TWG chairman is warning that legal action will begin immediately if they can't come to an agreement. MacKenzie plans to sue for the £1.5 million ($2.6m; €2.2m) a month in ad revenue he believes his company is losing due to RAJAR's ratings.

"If they don’t agree to introduce watches immediately after that meeting, I will be in the High Court the next day," he told the Media Research Group on Wednesday.

He also attacked Radio Advertising Bureau chairman Douglas McArthur, who believes RAJAR would be "mad" to adopt an electronic system it knew had problems. McArthur, fulminated the TWG boss, "is getting paid by commercial companies who have a vested interest in sticking with outmoded technology."

Whether MacKenzie will actually make it to court is a matter for speculation -- he has been threatening to sue RAJAR for one reason or another since September last year [WAMN: 23-Sep-02].

Data sourced from: Media Week (UK); additional content by WARC staff