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UK radio audience data published on Thursday showed that GCap Media flagship Capital Radio suffered year-on-year declines, but the figures also suggested that audience numbers may have started to stabilise.

According to Rajar, the radio audience measurement service, Capital Radio in London saw audience reach – the number of people who listen for at least 5 minutes every week – fall almost 19 per cent year-on-year to 1.46m in the three months to December 31.

Share of listening, or the percentage of total listening time in a week, fell from 5.9 per cent to 4.7 per cent.

However, compared with the third quarter, both reach and share were stable.

GCap Media is UK’s largest radio group, and its weak performance has weighed on the whole sector. It recently hired Fru Hazlitt from Virgin Radio to oversee its London operations, and has re-signed Johnny Vaughan as presenter of its breakfast show.

Capital’s breakfast time audience, the most important in the day, fell 18 per cent to 813,000, but the show managed to increase its numbers by 4 per cent compared with the previous quarter.

Chrysalis’s Heart 106.2FM retained the top spot in London, both in weekly reach and market share, with reach up 5 per cent to 1.76m and market share up from 6 per cent to 7.1 per cent. Heart’s breakfast show had the largest audience in London with a weekly reach of 948,000.

Emap’s Magic 105.4 saw its reach rise 7.2 per cent to 1.79m, with a market share of 5.5 per cent.


Emiko Terazono writes: The figures are a long-awaited ray of light for the sector, which has been weighed down by a weak advertising market. There is still uncertainty about whether the advertising cycle is about to turn, but the gloom that has spread over the industry may be about to abate, which may even spark some corporate activity.

But the sector, which has failed to monetise the move to digital still faces challenges in the mid- to long term. Younger listeners are turning to websites such as lastfm and Pandora, which offer customised music on tap. These services are likely to rise, and radio companies will need to keep up with such trends.

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