Fears that the advance release of quarterly radio listening data could result in the leak of price sensitive information to the stock markets, are under the microscope at Britain's official radio ratings body RAJAR (Radio Joint Audience Research).

The data, although embargoed until 11am on the day of release, is actually available to RAJAR members five hours earlier -- time enough for unscrupulous use of the figures by those with an interest in media share prices.

Although RAJAR insists there is no evidence of such abuse, it accepts that a risk exists and has agreed to mull a later release timing to nullify the possibility of misuse.

Says managing director Sally de la Bedoyere: "A couple of stations have questioned whether it is legal from the point of view of them getting the information prior to the embargo. This is quite normal practice and perfectly legal. However, having had some stations question the timings we will happily review the situation."

Until recently, the ratings data was released twelve hours before the 11am embargo, resulting in a number of embarrassing leaks to the press and investors.

This was abandoned in favour of the current 6am release, well past the deadline of any morning newspaper -- but ample time for radio stations, online publications and emails to break the embargo and trigger the buying and selling of shares.

Data sourced from: mad.co.uk; additional content by WARC staff