Britain's radio industry has closed ranks in defence of its audience research methodology, recently under attack by former tabloid tearaway Kelvin MacKenzie, now ceo of Rupert Murdoch’s The Wireless Group [WAMN: 21-Mar-02].

MacKenzie is talking-up the virtues of a rival system, Radiocontrol, which utilises an electronic ‘wrist watch’ that automatically monitors and records the radio stations to which its wearers listen – possibly because it shows his own stations in a better light than the data produced by incumbent research body RAJAR (Radio Joint Audience Research). He slammed the present system at a recent conference of radio industry executives: “Advertisers, media sales houses and the financial markets are being misled,” he accused.

Responded Andrew Carter, head of research Capital Radio Advertising: “I believe it’s dangerous when someone breaks ranks and commissions his own piece of research – it’s difficult to know how representative it is of UK radio listeners.”

And Rajar managing director Jane O’Hara stated: “We started our own tests in January on behalf of the whole radio industry and there’ll be absolutely no difference to the time scale following Kelvin’s comments.” The tests include electronic measurement devices and the publication of data on platform-related listening.

This failed to satisfy Mackenzie: “At the rate that Rajar’s currently undertaking research and tests into new measurement systems, there’ll be no real decision until the spring of 2003,” he said. “I’m simply not prepared to wait that long for results.”

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