Wednesday, 16 May 2007

RAJAR Qtr 1 2007 - The Post Mortem Part 1

So we've all had time to digest the RAJAR figures then have we?

As with every set of numbers, there's always something that grabs the headlines, and we weren't disappointed this time around. The BBC grabbing a record share of listening against commercial radio has to be seen the main story for Qtr 1 2007.

Moyles breaking through the 7 Million barrier, Radio 2 at 13.25 Million and even the rather niche offerings of 6 Music and 1Xtra scored record reach figures of 477,000 and 465,000 respectively. It's a very healthy picture for the BBC's music networks, and so the theory goes that commercial radio needs a strong BBC to ensure it is constantly injecting new creativity into its output. But it's getting a bit too strong for many groups who are really feeling the squeeze.

The response from Commercial Radio is naturally one of "Don't panic Captain Mannering!"... and you can't really say anything else faced with those numbers, can you? Fru Hazlitt, GCap's new London MD who's never normally understated, said "Yes - we still have some work to do!". Actually, I'm sure, privately, she's saying a lot more than that, but there's at least a public acknowledgement that commercial radio needs to innovate more, particularly in the area of digital and non-linear broadcasting to compete with the BBC more effectively.

There are notable exceptions, and of course there are pockets of excellence in commercial radio in many areas... Classic FM's broad range of output, Virgin's digital advances, Kerrang!'s execution of its format... but until there's some grass roots changes in the style of presentation in many local stations and an investment in talent development, then I fear Fru Hazlitt will be uttering that phrase for some time to come.

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