Radio 3 controller Roger Wright has said that there is ‘no pressure from within the BBC for Radio 3 to increase its audience’ as the latest Rajar radio listening figures were released.
The latest quarter’s figures revealed the station’s weekly reach to have dropped to below 2m per week in the quarter to December 2013, roughly 33,000 listeners fewer than in the previous quarter and 1.3% less than in the same period in 2012.
‘Audience figures are only one measure of success,’ wrote Wright in a letter to the Independent in which he expressed surprise at the newspaper’s claim that the latest figures showed it was ‘ailing’.
Digital-only station BBC 6 Music reached only 30,000 fewer listeners per week than Radio 3, said the paper, despite the classical station’s advantage of also being broadcast on FM. The Independent claimed that 6 Music had ‘strayed into Radio 3 territory’ with Stuart Maconie’s weekly Freak Zone programme, and highlighted the presence of the London Sinfonietta playing works by Varèse, Berio and John Adams at the first 6 Music Prom in summer 2013 as further evidence of crossover between the stations.
Figures for Radio 3’s breakfast show rose over the period when new presenter Clemency Burton-Hill took over weekdays from Sara Mohr-Pietsch in December, on the roster alongside Petroc Trelawny, the figures reflecting a period in which both Mohr-Pietsch and Burton-Hill were presenting.
Wright said: ‘We do not chase ratings, but I am delighted that the station has experienced recent growth in its distinctiveness and audience appreciation figures and remains a vital part of the UK’s cultural landscape.’
The figures showed Classic FM’s audience reach had increased to more than 5.6m people per week, leading its managing editor, Sam Jackson, to call it ‘the nation’s classical station’.
‘Classic FM has strengthened its position as the home of classical music,’ said Jackson, ‘and I’m thrilled that so many listeners have discovered us at this exciting time.’