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Thursday, 3 February, 2000, 16:12 GMT
DJ Zoe's ratings winner

Zoe Ball leaves her Breakfast Show at the end of March

Radio 1 DJ Zoe Ball has delivered a knockout blow to Virgin's Chris Evans in their breakfast show battle.

The latest quarterly report by the Radio Joint Audience Research (Rajar) ratings body reveals the weekly ratings for her Breakfast Show have topped 7m for the first time.

Chris Evans's "romance" with Geri Halliwell failed to boost ratings
The 29-year-old presenter, who will be replaced by friend Sara Cox when she leaves at the end of March, is pulling in 600,000 more listeners than she was three months ago.

Despite Chris Evans's much-publicised recent "romance" with former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell and a 1m on-air giveaway, Virgin Radio has lost 0.4% of its regular audience share, dropping from 3.1m to 3.04m weekly listeners.

A Radio 1 spokesman said: "Zoe has definitely made her Breakfast Show the place where young listeners like to go when they wake up. I believe Sara will carry on where Zoe leaves off."

In another setback for commercial radio, the latest Rajar figures show that, for the first time in more than a year, BBC radio is reaching more weekly listeners than all the commercial stations combined.

Friends: Zoe with replacement Sara Cox
Nearly 31m people are listening to the corporation's national and regional stations each week - 63,000 more than are tuning in to independent channels.

And the BBC is maintaining its majority share of the overall audience, edging up one percentage point between last October and December to 51.3%.

BBC Radio 5 Live was among the main winners - its weekly reach has tipped over the 6m mark for the first time.

Radio 2 continues to be the nation's most listened-to station, enjoying a 410,000-strong boost to 9.9m while capturing a 12.8% audience share.

Radio 1 is still the highest reach of any station, netting 11.29m listeners a week - a rise of 82,000 on the previous quarter.

Commercial brake

But while commercial stations have remained largely static, Classic FM's reach has risen by 383,000, with its share of the audience swelling by 0.2 percentage points to 4.3%.

Rajar board member Justin Sampson said the figures were good news for radio generally, as they showed that "listening hours are on the up".

He added that new research showed radio listening was growing among internet users, especially during the evening, with TV viewing figures correspondingly down 25% and the number of people watching videos falling 21% at such times.

Commercial radio spokeswoman Rachell Fox described the sector's audience share and reach as reflecting a "stable performance". She added: "We are going to look at why our audiences are fairly static this time."

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See also:
11 Jan 00 |  Entertainment
Sport relaunch for Talk
20 Dec 99 |  Entertainment
Cox lands Radio 1 breakfast job
15 Jan 00 |  Entertainment
Ball 'stalked by obsessed fan'
28 Oct 99 |  Entertainment
Hot summer for BBC Radio 1

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