Fears that the BBC will stop its joint funding of radio industry research may force Rajar to change its research methodology for a second time.
The BBC has grown increasingly unhappy following recent attempts to update the system.
Rajar executive director Roger Gane now says a decision on how to clarify the current system for future Rajar quarters will be made after meetings of Rajar’s technical committee later this week.
“There are two options – a return to the original diary or continuation with the new ones,” he says. “At this point, no decision has been made to adopt either.”
Following changes to the Rajar research methodology aimed at simplifying the diary, weekly reach for almost all stations has fallen significantly quarter on quarter.
As a result, many stations do not believe the latest Rajar data – which was finally published last Friday – is a true representation of listening.
The BBC is eager to reduce the amount it spends on joint industry research. Some fear this latest Rajar rumpus will give it further reason to withdraw.
“This is the central issue,” CIA director David Fletcher observes. “If the BBC falls out, we won’t get the same quality of research and all the old issues will resurface.”
BBC radio marketing head Sue Farr last week voiced frustration at the unreliability of latest listening figures.
According to one station sales director: “While we are still committed to supporting Rajar, which remains a valuable and important research system, the fact remains that the system has broken down.
“Latest figures are totally inconsistent and cannot be compared with any other quarter.”