UK Radio Ratings Hit Market Leader, As 'Lads Mags' Droop

20 August 2007

LONDON: The latest crop of UK radio and magazine ratings reveals sagging numbers for the two media sectors - both apparently suffering from consumers' emigration online.

Not only has the nation's largest radio company, GCap Media, been smitten by a dire second quarter, the once-indefatigable men's magazines sector has also taken a hammering.

  • GCap, formed in May 2005 by the merger of GWR Group with Capital Radio Group, has been battling stormy waters since its melding, despite a glimmer of light in Q1 2007 when RAJAR (Radio Joint Audience Research) data showed its flagship Capital Radio network stabilising audiences.

    After the latest dataset, however, this respite seems a mere blip on the downward curve. Capital's once all-conquering London station fell to fourth position during the quarter.

    Meantime, sibling national network Classic FM shed over 300,000 listeners in Q2, bringing its current listener total to 5.704 million - one hundred thousand pair of ears less than the year-ago period.

    GCap operations director Steve Orchard played down the significance of the latest RAJAR numbers: "Capital is in a period of turnaround, we are modernising it and this will take time."

    Continued his rationalization: "As for Classic FM, there is no major demographic shift. It's a stable station and the revenue is robust."

    However, Orchard senses "positive stirrings" in the radio ad market and, with crossed fingers, claims that advertisers are beginning to move back from the internet to radio.

  • On the men's monthly magazine front, the Audit Bureau of Circulations revealed that IPC Media's Loaded, the genre's granddaddy launched in 1994, went into freefall in the half-year to June 30, average sales down 27.9% to 102,000.

    Emap's monthly FHM also mirrored its rival's slide, whereas newer weekly competitors Nuts and Zoo (both launched in 2004), respectively lost 5.5% and 8.3%.

    "That format - girls and gadgets - is looking a bit tired," opined Douglas McCabe of Enders Analysis.

    "It's entirely predictable but it's as bad as it could be. You are seeing the young male audience completely disintegrating because it is moving online."

    Data sourced from and Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff