RAJAR (Radio Joint Audience Research), the organisation that monitors UK radio audience size and listening habits, has defeated a case against them brought by The Wireless Group (TWG).
Kelvin MacKenzie’s TWG launched the case back in March, claiming £66m in compensation for lost advertising revenues. TWG’s case came from the frustration at the alleged inaccuracy of the paper diary methods, and results of RAJAR audience monitoring. They felt the RAJAR figures for the their TalkSPORT radio station were not representative and this in turn left TWG’s advertising under-valued.
TWG claimed RAJAR has abused competition laws when it decided against the immediate introduction of audiometers in June 2003, which they felt would give a more accurate, and therefore better, audience numbers for them.
Today’s judgment was handed down after a two-day High Court hearing in early November 2004. RAJAR’s application to strike out the claim brought by The Wireless Group (TWG) in March of this year was upheld. Mr Justice Lloyd ruled that TWG’s description of RAJAR’s decision in June 2003 “does not match the reality of the case”.
MacKenzie’s response? “RAJAR may have won a legal skirmish, but the war goes on until technology-based audience measurement is adopted”.
RAJAR current method of understanding listener’s habits uses a paper diary system distributed to a listener panel. It is widely thought that this measuring method, while giving broad habits, does not account well for smaller stations – measuring widespread niche audience is challenging.
To address this RAJAR has also set a target date for the introduction of a new audience measurement methodology, potentially including audiometers, of January 2007.
Digital Lifestyles attended their extensive testing of three competing audiometers back in a November. RAJAR had taken over the whole floor of a London hotel, setting up different situations where people might be listening to such as with the TV on; another music source playing; a shower on. Each scenario would be gone through in strict rotation and at set times, the testers would flood into the halls ways to locate their next room for testing. It was clearly comprehensive and was the largest trial carried out to date.
All eyes of radio audience measuring authorities from around the world are on RAJAR, awaiting the results.