RAJAR: All time radio high and audience hike for 6 Music

Radio listening in the UK has reached an all time high according to the latest RAJAR figures, which also show a near 50% rise in audience for closure-threatened 6 Music and commercial radio failing to make ground on the BBC.

This figure is up year on year by almost three quarters of a million listeners (45.8 million in Q1, 2009) and also up over 500,000 listeners quarter on quarter (46 million in Q4, 2009).

Sean Duffy, head of technology, media and telecoms at Barclays Corporate, said:“Radio listening figures are at an all time high, which will be welcome relief for radio operators, and in particular regional radio management, who saw advertising revenue move into virtual freefall in 2008/09.

"However, advertising revenue has now stabilised and radio in general appears to have weathered the storm remarkably well, with innovative marketing, local partnerships and the co-location of stations all playing their part.

“New technologies are clearly making popular shows increasingly more accessible as greater numbers continue to move from traditional FM/AM to DAB, mobile and on-line. However, while growing swiftly, digital penetration still stands at around 20 percent, so it will be interesting to see whether the new Government will still support a digital switch over that is now only five years away.”

In terms of individual stations' performances, one striking result is that BBC 6 Music, the station controversially facing the axe from the BBC Trust, has grown its audience by almost 50% in three months.

It seemed to benefit from the considerable media coverage about its proposed closure as it averaged weekly reach of 1.02 million listeners for the first quarter of this year, a leap from the 695,000 listeners it recorded in the last three months of last year.

But BBC Asian Network, another station under threat, has lost listeners. Its 357,000 average was slightly down (by 0.8%) on its 360,000 in the last quarter.

Commercial radio's share of the listening was 41.3%, down from 42.% in the last three months of 2009 and down from 41.6% at the same time last year.

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