Britain’s radio audience measurement service will for the time being defy calls to change its research methodology.

RAJAR (Radio Joint Audience Research) plans to stick with its existing diary system after experimenting with two electronic alternatives.

The news will do nothing to silence Kelvin MacKenzie – former tabloid editor and now boss of Murdoch-controlled radio minnow The Wireless Group – who is vehement that the existing system discriminates against smaller players.

Earlier this year, MacKenzie commissioned a rival survey from GfK, which uses an electronic wristwatch system called Radiocontrol. First results were released in May, with speech stations such as TWG’s TalkSPORT picking up much higher ratings than are recorded in RAJAR figures [WAMN: 30-May-03].

However, Radiocontrol is one of the electronic methods tested and rejected by RAJAR, which found the system could not tell the difference between AM and FM broadcast platforms.

The other rejected methodology is Arbitron’s Portable People Meter. This was turned down on the basis of cost, as it would require a sixfold increase in the size of RAJAR’s panel.

“Following careful consideration, the RAJAR board has decided against the introduction of electronic meters for the time being,” declared the group’s managing director Jane O’Hara. “Its decision is wholly based on the findings of RAJAR’s detailed tests, which have shown that neither electronic device, in its current form, is capable of delivering a radio measurement system for the UK that would reach RAJAR’s gold-standard.”

Nevertheless, RAJAR insists that an electronic methodology of some sort may still be introduced at some point in the future.

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