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Thursday, October 28, 1999 Published at 17:14 GMT 18:14 UK


Hot summer for Radio 1

Something to shout about: Radio 1's Zoe Ball

BBC Radio 1 has posted a rise in its listening figures in the latest radio industry statistics - but speech stations such as Radio 4 and Radio 5 Live lost listeners during the summer.

The national pop network gained 250,000 listeners in the latest Rajar figures - compiled on behalf of BBC and commercial stations.

Broadcasters blame seasonal trends for the loss of listeners for speech stations, while Radio 1 - which had a weekly listenership of 11.2 million - benefited from its regular summer roadshow and a week of broadcasts from Ibiza.

BBC Radio 4 had an average of 439,000 fewer listeners each week from June to September than it did in the previous few months, taking its weekly listenership down to 8.75 million.

[ image: Talk Radio boss Kelvin MacKenzie: Listening figures falling]
Talk Radio boss Kelvin MacKenzie: Listening figures falling
BBC Radio 5 Live lost 376,000 listeners, putting it on 5.58 million. But its share of listening among all stations was up slightly, taking it to a new record of 4.2%.

A spokesman for the BBC pointed to the lack of live football on the station during the summer, adding: "All these things tend to be seasonal."

Radio 5 Live's commercial rival, Talk Radio, posted a loss of 389,000, giving it 1.88 million listeners each week. Since a consortium led by former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie bought the station last year, it has been involved in an aggressive battle with the BBC for rights to sports commentaries.

Radio 2 lost 367,000 listeners during the summer putting it on 9.49 million listeners, while Radio 3 lost 54,000, giving it a weekly total of 1.92 million.

Overall, the BBC has regained its slim lead over the UK's commercial sector, with 50.3% of listening, ahead of commercial radio's 47.8%.

National commercial station Classic FM fell from its record figure of 5.97 million to post 5.62 million listeners during the summer.

[ image: Michael Palin: Controversial GLR increases audience share]
Michael Palin: Controversial GLR increases audience share
Virgin Radio - owned by Chris Evans' Ginger Media Group - lost almost 20,000, giving it 3.1 million listeners on its national AM frequency.

The figures are used by most of the UK's radio stations, from south-east London community station FLR 107.3 (weekly reach: 2,000) to its giant neighbour Capital FM, which recorded a small drop in its audience, but still reaches just over 3 million each week.

The BBC's London station, GLR, showed a slight rise in its audience to 295,000, but it more than doubled its share of the London market, from 0.6% to 1.3%.

The station is at the centre of a controversy over plans to revamp its output. Alan McGee, the founder of Oasis' record label Creation, last week publicly offered to buy the station - which combines news, speech and music - for £20m.

A listeners' group - which has founded a website to protest about the changes - claims the station has been badly promoted and that the BBC wants to dilute the eclectic range of music played on the station. Celebrities including Michael Palin, author Nick Hornby and singer Ian Dury have backed the campaigners.

In response, the BBC claims the diverse range of music and speech programming on GLR puts off many listeners and intends to increase the amount of news and talk on the station.

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