Friday, August 07, 2009

The RAJARS: Not so much audience figures as a referendum

Most people see the Rajar figures as a guide - however wonky - to audience listening patterns for UK radio.

Not the Daily Mail, though. Like that bloke in Contact who can discern patterns in white noise coming from space, the Mail is able to look at the Rajar states and spy crowds of outraged middle Englanders who are waving angry pitchforks:

Radio 2 breakfast show host Terry Wogan also saw his listening figures soar, and extended his lead over foul-mouthed breakfast rival Chris Moyles.

The implication is that people are turning to twinkling Tel, having had their ears scorched by Moyles. The difficult detail that Moyles' audience is also rising seems to have somehow fallen off the final copy.

The real meat of the Mail's piece, though, is that the audience drop somehow proves that They Were Right About Those Andrew Sachs calls:
Listeners are deserting Jonathan Ross's Radio 2 show in droves following the Andrew Sachs phone scandal.

The controversial presenter has seen ratings for his Saturday morning show slump in the past three months.

The presenter's average weekly audience between March and June has been 2.85million.

This is a slump, is it?
That is 180,000 below the average of 3.03million for the first three months of this year

Slightly fewer people listening to the radio on Saturday mornings in the spring than in the winter. Whoever would have thought?

And since the higher audience you're comparing with there was, erm, after Ross had returned from the post-Sachs ban, that's it's a pretty weak contention to link that fall with the phone calls. Have you got anything else?
...and 540,000 down on the 3.39million from the first quarter of 2008.

Half a million lost listeners - well, that does sound a little more slumpy. But can you really put that down to desertion following the Sachs thing?

There could be other reasons - a general shift in audience to other things, loss of listeners during the period when Ross wasn't on - but more importantly, if the Mail is really trying to prove the impact of upsetting Andrew Sachs, why is comparing the audience in January-March 2008 with today? Wouldn't a comparison of the audience before the Brand-Ross calls - immediately before, rather than half a year before - be a bit more instructive?