SMG Allies With Mackenzie to Challenge RAJAR

02 February 2004

Kelvin MacKenzie, the highly vocal chairman of Rupert Murdoch's UK radio business, The Wireless Group, has at last found a potential ally in his battle with radio audience measurement body RAJAR.

Joining battle last week in the radio audience data war (albeit on a different front) was Scottish Media Group, owner of national network Virgin Radio and local stations The Groove and Liquid. SMG too is less than happy with the data published by RAJAR. The latest figures imply that Virgin's share of the national audience fell during Q4 to 1.4%, down from 1.7% in the preceding quarter.

The Caledonian media giant, which carries a deal more muscle than MacKenzie's TWG, has challenged the adequacy of the sample in the 15 to 35 male age group -- a key segment of Virgin's audience -- claiming the demographic is under-represented in RAJAR's sample.

The audit body seemingly accepts SMG's criticism and has launched a campaign to recruit more 15-35 males to its panel. But it is unlikely this demographic shortcoming would have been affected for better or worse by a switch from RAJAR's paper diary methodology to an electronic 'wristwatch' -- a system for which MacKenzie has vociferously campaigned.

He claims that electronic measurement trials conducted by his flagship station Talksport delivered almost five million more listeners a week than reported by RAJAR.

RAJAR will this summer embark on second phase trials of two new electronic systems. Even if successful, however, it warns that a switch would not be implemented until 2006 at earliest. But if SMG chooses to add its weight to MacKenzie's campaign, some believe RAJAR might acquire a new sense of urgency.

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff