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July 3, 2003updated 17 May 2007 11:30am

MacKenzie issues court threat to Rajar

By Press Gazette

By Wale Azeez

Wireless Group boss Kelvin MacKenzie is considering legal action against radio research body Rajar, after it rejected electronic audience measurement for the foreseeable future.

MacKenzie, a campaigner for electronic measurement, blasted Rajar as “charlatans” and described its decision as “disgraceful, made by vested interests behind closed doors”.

Rajar’s decision to keep to its current mode of measurement came after testing two systems for 15 months – the Arbitron Portable People Meter (PPM) and the TWG-backed Radiocontrol wristwatch.

MacKenzie, whose main station is talkSport, said: “I am considering a lawsuit against Rajar. After 15 months, the industry that prides itself in technology simply says ‘no’ to electronic measurement. “My radio station has an audience of 8 million if measured by electronic measurement, and 2.2 million if measured by memory, pencil and diary.”

Rajar managing director Jane O’Hara said it had decided against electronic meters “for the time being”. “The decision is wholly based on the findings of Rajar’s detailed tests, which have shown that neither electronic device, in its current form, is capable of delivering a radio measurement system for the UK that would reach Rajar’s gold standard,” she said.

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MacKenzie fired back: “Is that the gold standard that mixed up LBC on FM and LBC News on AM in the last set of Rajar diary results – a cock-up for which Rajar was forced to apologise only last week?” A spokeswoman for Rajar said it was concerned that the meters produced different results to each other during testing, “casting doubts over the perceived accuracy” of meters.

“Two hundred and seventy radio stations rely on Rajar, and we are not about to put them in jeopardy.” MacKenzie countered: “I challenge Rajar to disclose the numbers from their research. “These charlatans are costing my business a fortune. I now have no alternative but to consider looking to the courts to get justice for my company.”

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