Radio audience figures for the fourth quarter of 1995 could be delayed because of measures by Rajar to rectify disparities in listening figures caused by new research methods.
Between Christmas and the new year, the Rajar board agreed to commission detailed modelling of all stations’ audience profiles, with the aim of clarifying the effects on light radio listening.
Rajar created a new system which aimed to deal more efficiently with the rapid increase in the number of stations. Rather than using a pre-printed diary listing all available stations, those surveyed were invited to prepare their own lists using stickers provided.
This appears to have resulted in national stations “losing” millions of listeners. Classic FM reportedly went from 4.5 million to 4 million, while Virgin Radio slipped from 4.3 million to 3.5 million (MW December 8 1995).
“There has been a failure by respondents to stick in sufficient labels,” says a Rajar statement.
Results of the audience profile analysis will be used to “model back” lost light listeners, station sources explain.
Rajar has also decided to run further parallel research to monitor how effective the the “remodelling” has been and reassess differences in weekly audience reach, which have affected all stations as a result of the new sticker methodology.
“This problem of label shortfall did not occur on the pilot of the new methodology,” says Rajar. “New procedures and substantial interviewer rebriefing are taking place to rectify this shortfall in the first quarter of 1996.”
Details of the new measures will be published by Rajar this week.