BBC claims encouraging response for new digital radio services

LONDON: The BBC has announced an encouraging response for its new digital radio services. The new services reached 2,560,000 UK listeners. .

The official listening figures were released by Radio Joint Audience Research (RAJAR). BBC 6 Music, with its mix of archive and new music, had a reach of 154,000. 1Xtra, the black music station, achieved the greatest reach attracting 331,000 listeners. BBC 7 which showcases comedy, drama, readings and children's programmes had a reach of 236,000. This figure rises to 350,000 when children aged under 15 are included. This suggests that the specially commissioned programmes are succeeding in attracting children to speech radio.

An official release informs that each of these networks achieves a share of 0.1 per cent, This indicates that listeners are spending a generous amount of time with the new stations. 6 Music listeners are tuning in for around five hours a week. This represents the longest amount of time spent with any of the new listeners.

The World Service recorded a reach of 1,411,000, compared with 1,463,000 last quarter, and a share of 0.7 per cent. The Asian Network, which now broadcasts across the UK on digital (as well as on medium wave in the Midlands), showed overall reach of 495,000 compared with last quarter's 421,000.

BBC's director of radio and music Jenny Abramsky added, " Apart from Sports Extra, designed to give Five Live listeners greater choice, the new networks were created to reach new and underserved audiences and contribute something completely distinctive in the ever more crowded radio marketplace. I am particularly pleased with the signs that 1Xtra, like the Asian Network, appears to be reaching sections of the community who have felt marginalised by the BBC and I'm delighted that children are turning to BBC 7.

" The age of digital radio has come at last and the BBC has played a crucial role in getting us there. Although the proliferation of new services must inevitably impact upon the BBC's share, I am convinced that spearheading the move to digital was right for the future of the whole radio industry."

The quarter saw all BBC reach at 31,790,000 compared to Commercial Radio's 31,573,000. Despite the ever-increasing competition, the BBC's share was 51.8 per cent compared to Commercial Radio's 46.2 per cent.

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