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Thursday, June 10, 1999 Published at 16:40 GMT 17:40 UK


Ambridge rivals ER in ratings

The cast of ER: More attractive than The Archers - just

Radio 4's The Archers is almost as popular as Channel 4 imports Friends and ER, according to the latest listening figures.

The rustic drama set in the fictional village of Ambridge attracts 2.53m listeners each evening, according to the figures compiled by Rajar, which collates statistics on behalf of the radio industry.

This compares with the 2.6m who watch ER and the 2.57m who settle down in front of Friends on Channel 4 each week.

The figures are the first to be compiled under a new system, which Rajar believes will make the figures more accurate and up-to-date.

They also show Radio 4's Today programme has 6.2m listeners each morning, while Radio 1's Zoe Ball and Radio 2's Terry Wogan have 6.7m and 5.5m listeners respectively.

Radio 1 on top

[ image: Zoe Ball: 6.7m listeners wake up with her each morning]
Zoe Ball: 6.7m listeners wake up with her each morning
BBC Radio 1 is the most-listened to station as a whole with 10.84m listeners, followed by Radio 2 on 9.67m and Radio 4 on 9.47m listeners.

Comparisons with past figures are difficult, because of the new way they are compiled.

However, the results will be welcomed by the likes of Radio 4 controller James Boyle, previously under fire for overseeing falling ratings on the network.

They show 42.6m people listen to the radio - be it on BBC or commercial stations. This is 2.3m above the last Rajar survey conducted under the old system.

Meanwhile, Classic FM is celebrating a figure of 6.03m listeners, compared to Radio 3's 2.27m.

Figures are compiled by issuing diaries to listeners who then fill in which stations they listen to and at what time.

Easier survey system

[ image: Today presenter John Humphrys: Radio 4 now has 9.47m listeners]
Today presenter John Humphrys: Radio 4 now has 9.47m listeners
The new system involves making the diaries easier to use, as well as only surveying one person per household, rather than a number of household members as happened previously.

Rajar claims this removes the risk of the results being skewed by members of the same household listening to the radio at the same time - for example, if only one person in the household decides which breakfast show to listen to, but three or four people are in the room at the same time.

People who take part in the surveys are also interviewed beforehand to further ensure the accuracy of the study.

Of other stations, BBC Radio 5 Live has 5.8m listeners, compared with 2.3m for Talk Radio, with which it is in a fierce battle for the rights to sporting events. The two stations now share the rights to FA Cup football matches as well as England's home internationals.

Virgin Radio, owned by Chris Evans' Ginger Media Group, has 4.64m listeners across its national AM and London-only FM frequencies.

Across the country, the BBC is comfortably beating the 200+ commercial radio stations, with 50.3% of listening, compared with 47.5% for their independent rivals.

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