Former tabloid editor Kelvin Mackenzie is carrying out his threat to take Britain’s radio audience measurement service to court.

Mackenzie – now boss of Rupert Murdoch’s UK radio minnow The Wireless Group – has begun legal proceedings against RAJAR (Radio Joint Audience Research) over the way it measures ratings.

The TWG boss is furious that RAJAR recently rejected two electronic measurement schemes it had tested as possible replacements for its existing diary methodology [WAMN: 02-Jul-03]. He argues the current system discriminates against smaller stations such as TWG’s TalkSPORT.

TWG recently backed a survey conducted by Gfk that utilised an electronic wristwatch. This study found TalkSPORT to be the nation’s biggest national commercial station with a weekly reach of 16%, compared with a reach of just 4% under the RAJAR methodology.

Mackenzie believes the low ratings polled under the existing system cost his firm millions. “The unreasonable use of paper diaries damages us commercially, probably to the tune of £10 million [$15.7m; €14.5m] a year,” he fumed. “We are taking [the matter] to court.”

Despite the ratings wrangle, TWG enjoyed its first profitable half-year in the six months to June, reporting underlying earnings of £0.6m compared with a £1.7m loss in H1 2002.

Data sourced from: Times Online (UK); additional content by WARC staff