Digital radio is rapidly making its mark on Britain’s media landscape, judging by new listening figures.

The latest survey from RAJAR (Radio Audience Joint Research), covering the first three months of 2003, included digital stations for the first time. Only three such stations from a total of over 50 chose to have their ratings listed, but these three alone attracted more than one and a half million Britons.

The trio were rock music station Kerrang!, which had a weekly reach of 771,000, pop purveyor Smash Hits (759,000) and speech-based Oneword (50,000). In addition, London-based analogue music station Kiss posted 932,000 listeners tuning in outside the capital via digital broadcasts.

This is the first time digital radio’s coming of age has been confirmed in listening figures, though anecdotal evidence has suggested before that it is a rapidly expanding sector. Digital radio sets have fallen in price and were a ‘must-have’ item last Christmas, with many shops running out of stock. Digital broadcasts can also be picked up via dTV platforms (with over 18% of the population listening via their TV sets according to RAJAR) and on the internet.

The growth of digital stations is helping to fuel a revival in the radio sector. The medium attracted more Britons than ever before in the latest RAJAR results, with 91% of the population tuning in at least once a week and listening to a total of 1.093 billion hours.

Commercial radio stations attracted a 44.5% share of listening, while the state-owned BBC stations gained a record 53.5% despite youth station Radio One sinking to an all-time low.

Data sourced from: multiple sources; additional content by WARC staff