Britain's radio audience measurement service aims to answer its critics by testing two new electronic services – though not until next July.

RAJAR (Radio Joint Audience Research) will spend £0.5 million ($0.84m; €0.72m) on trials of new electronic meters from Arbitron and Gfk. During the summer, it rejected earlier versions of both firms' methods and opted to stick with its existing manual diary technique, even though the latter has come under increasing fire from some in the industry [WAMN: 02-Jul-03].

However, according to RAJAR managing director Jane O'Hara, neither Arbitron nor Gfk can supply test equipment until July 2004. "We remain hopeful that a meter can be found which is able to meet the requirements of RAJAR’s stakeholders," she said. "Only then can we responsibly consider the possibility of moving to electronic measurement."

Former tabloid editor Kelvin MacKenzie – one of the most vociferous opponents of RAJAR's diary methodology – wasted no time in denouncing the delay.

"RAJAR has the opportunity to drive a Range Rover," he fumed, "but, instead, it’s plodding along in a horse and cart."

MacKenzie is head of Murdoch-controlled radio minnow The Wireless Group. He claims that the diary system discriminates against smaller players.

Earlier this year, MacKenzie commissioned a rival survey using GfK's Radiocontrol electronic wristwatch system. 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].

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