Former tabloid editor Kelvin MacKenzie, nowadays semi-housetrained as chairman/ceo of Rupert Murdoch's The Wireless Group, came out of his corner fighting on Wednesday.

Dander well and truly up at the dismissal by Britain's radio ratings body RAJAR of his £66 million lawsuit [WAMN: 17-Mar-04] as "ludicrous", MacKenzie counterpunched with gusto.

"What is ludicrous is that … RAJAR's research director admitted that [his] staff had not kept records for all of their listening for the crucial tests on the accuracy of the audiometers. Instead they had tried to remember what they listened to over a week earlier and compare this to the audiometer results."

TWG, said MacKenzie, couldn't wait for its day in court …"and we want it sooner rather than later". He added: "We believe we have an unassailable argument and we are happy to leave it to a judge to decide on its merits."

But RAJAR's recently appointed managing director Sally de la Bedoyere punches her weight just as effectively as MacKenzie.

"Leading counsel advise us that it is highly likely that [TWG's] claim will be struck out before it comes to trial. RAJAR is not surprised that the ludicrous claims relating to financial losses seem to be merely for the purposes of a sensational press release. They are not detailed in the [legal] proceedings"

"Furthermore the claims in the press release about the adoption of meters [the Radiocontrol wristwatch and Arbitron Portable People Meter] in other countries remain untrue. The major markets have only tested them.

"The UK remains the only country to have tested both. The one country using Radiocontrol watches is Switzerland which has a relatively small radio industry and is where the watch was invented".

MacKenzie believes that RAJAR's current diary-based manual system disadvantages smaller radio stations to the benefit of the larger operators such as GWR and Capital. He has lobbied long and loud for the introduction of an electronic measurement system which he claims will more accurately reflect TWG's true audience levels.

The ratings body, jointly owned by the BBC and the CRCA (Commercial Radio Companies Association), decided against implementing electronic meters last year after finding results inconsistent. RAJAR's board also includes representative from the Radio Advertising Bureau and the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising.

Data sourced from multiple origins; additional content by WARC staff