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May 16, 2024

RAJARs Q1 2024: Hit to BBC local radio continues as LBC’s Nick Ferrari is breakfast winner

Listening hours to BBC local radio in England down by 10% for second quarter in a row.

By Charlotte Tobitt

The decline in listening hours to BBC local radio in England has continued at 10% for a second quarter after cutbacks to local content, according to RAJAR figures for Q1 2024.

The RAJAR figures show the BBC’s local radio stations in England collectively had a weekly reach of 4.8 million people in Q1 2024, down 10% year on year and 2% quarter on quarter.

The network’s total listening hours were 30.4 million, down 10% for the second quarter in a row. It also saw fewer average hours per listener, on 6.4 compared to 6.9 in Q4 2023.

In the past year dozens of long-serving BBC local radio presenters in England have left their roles as programme sharing began in some time slots, although the plans were scaled back slightly from their original scale.

Talkradio saw a similar 9% drop in total listening hours, to five million, but most other stations in our quarterly selection (which we judge to have a large news and current affairs focus) saw growth by this metric. In March News UK announced it was pulling the plug on sister station TalkTV as a linear channel although it continues on radio and Youtube.

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BBC World Service saw the biggest growth in total listening hours, up 42% to 7.1 million in the UK. It also saw strong growth in its weekly reach, up 13% year-on-year and 14% quarter-on-quarter to 1.2 million.

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GB News Radio, still relatively new after its January 2022 launch, saw the biggest year-on-year growth in weekly reach of 43% to 455,000, albeit with smaller quarterly growth of 6%.

As a result the RAJAR Q1 2024 release saw GB News Radio lift off the bottom of the table for weekly reach in our quarterly ranking, overtaking LBC News in London for the first time.

Rivals LBC News, Talkradio and Times Radio meanwhile all saw year-on-year declines of 9%, 10% and 9% respectively.

LBC News, which launched in October 2019, had a weekly reach in the UK of 990,000, Talkradio of 757,000 and Times Radio, which launched in June 2020, of 503,000.

The average hours per listener were up quarter-on-quarter at several stations, most notably BBC World Service (4.6 to 5.8), Times Radio (8 to 8.8), GB News Radio (6.5 to 7.1) and BBC Radio 2 (from 10.2 to 10.6).

RAJARs Q1 2024 for speech radio breakfast shows

Among breakfast shows, Nick Ferrari on LBC saw the biggest quarterly RAJAR growth of 8% or 100,000 people to 1.4 million.

BBC 5 Live was down 14% on the previous quarter while Talkradio's breakfast show was down 3.4% to an average weekly reach of 317,000 people and GB News Radio's breakfast show was down 2.6% to 189,000. Radio 4's flagship Today was flat quarter on quarter with 6.6m listeners per week.

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Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
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