National radio stations have apparently lost millions of listeners, thanks to the radio industry’s new audience research methodology.
The BBC is believed to be threatening to issue a statement saying it doesn’t recognise the new methodology and a number of commercial stations are close to joining it.
At a stormy meeting at the IPA this week, results for the first month under the new system were announced.
Radio 1 and Radio 2 are understood to have lost as much as ten per cent of their listeners since the third-quarter results. Classic FM has gone down from 4.5 million to 4 million listeners, Virgin Radio has gone from 4.3 million to 3.5 million listeners and Talk Radio has fallen from 2.3 million to 1.4 million.
While the total audience for the stations has fallen across the board, the total number of listening hours has gone up.
The new methodology involves listeners creating their own station diaries with names on sticky labels rather than using a pre-printed list. The industry’s research body, Rajar, introduced the methodology because of the rapid growth in the number of commercial stations.
However, radio stations believe that without being prompted listeners are declining to include stations they only listen to for small periods each week .
“The methodology is more accurate for regular listeners but seems totally inaccurate for light listeners,” says one station sales director. “This new method is up the creek. We moved from Jicrar to Rajar without any significant jumps, so is this supposed to mean we’ve been getting it wrong for 22 years?”