Belfast Telegraph

Ulster stations upbeat despite massive UK-wide 'switch-off'

By Clare Weir

Radio listenership in Northern Ireland is falling, according to RAJAR figures for April to June.

The Radio Joint Audience Research (RAJAR) statistics show that across the UK, around 800,000 people appear to have switched off the radio since this time last year.

However some stations have shown quarter-on-quarter improvements with BBC Radio Ulster and Foyle remaining the most popular station in the region.

BBC Radio Ulster and Foyle received an average weekly audience of 532,000 listeners - approximately 36.3% of the population, but the station's listenership has decreased year-on-year.

BBC Radio Foyle showed a decrease of 8,000 listeners year- on-year and 3,000 quarter-on quarter. Downtown Radio said it has added a further 19,000 weekly listeners to its audience over the last quarter to 247,000. In total, Downtown and sister station Cool FM say they have 588,000 weekly listeners tuning in.

Downtown managing director Mark Mahaffy said: "We're particularly pleased with how Downtown has performed this quarter, increasing the audience to 247,000 and this represents the highest quarterly increase of any commercial station in the country."

U105, part of the UTV Media plc stable, said it has recorded a year-on-year increase in its average hours and market share. The station now has 10.8% market share in its area, up from 10.7% during the same period last year.

Its 178,000 listeners now tune in for more than 1.8m hours every week.

Mr Mehaffy added: "Downtown has been the clear winner in this recent survey, adding 19,000 listeners when other local commercial stations suffer continuous audience decline.

"Together with market leader Cool FM, the stations reach 41% of the adult population with 588,000 weekly listeners.

"We're delighted to consolidate our market leading positions despite increased competition over the past few years."