Wireless starts £66m lawsuit against Rajar

The Wireless Group, the radio group headed by Kelvin MacKenzie, is suing Rajar for &£66m in lost earnings caused by flaws in the latter’s diary methodology. The Wireless Group launched legal proceedings yesterday, after several months of failed talks between the two sides.

The Wireless Group claims that Rajar’s tests of two electronic meters, the Radiocontrol wristwatch and the Arbitron pager, were flawed. It is seeking an order that Rajar’s refusal to adopt electronic measurement is unlawful. The company may also take legal action against Rajar’s shareholders, the BBC and the Commercial Radio Companies Association (CRCA).

The Wireless Group, which owns TalkSport and 16 local and regional stations, alleges that the Rajar tests were carried out using members of staff, including former marketing director Jane O’Hara, rather than members of the public.

MacKenzie says: “Today signals the end of my attempt to seek straightforward change through negotiation and the beginning of the final stage in which I will make my case to a judge while Rajar makes its own case.”

Rajar decided against adopting electronic measurement last July, after 15 months of tests on two systems. It claimed the results were unreliable (MW July 3, 2003). The body plans to carry out new tests in July. The Wireless Group says it is losing &£1.5m in advertising revenue a month because of under-reporting by the diary methodology.

Rajar says it made it “evidently clear” that its decision not to adopt electronic meters was taken after exhaustive tests in the field. It says the claim that the Rajar tests of electronic measurement are “fatally flawed” is without merit and focuses on one small area of testing.

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