'The Manchester, United Kingdom Radio Market: January 2005' by Grant Goddard


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A detailed analysis of the audiences for radio broadcasting in the Manchester market in the UK, written by Grant Goddard in January 2005 for The Radio Magazine.

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'The Manchester, United Kingdom Radio Market: January 2005' by Grant Goddard

  1. 1. THE MANCHESTER, UNITED KINGDOM RADIO MARKET by GRANT GODDARD www.grantgoddard.co.uk January 2005
  2. 2. In the week when a dozen applications for the new Manchester FM licence are about to drop through Ofcom’s letterbox, it is timely to examine some of the issues pertinent to the radio market in the city. One. Manchester does not have enough commercial stations for its size. Despite its status as the UK’s second largest metropolitan radio market, Manchester has only seven local commercial stations (4 FM, 3 AM) that cover the whole city, whereas London has fifteen (8 FM, 7 AM). The radio market in Manchester remains under-developed. Two. Radio still does not reach a significant part of the Manchester population. 15% of adults in Manchester never listen to radio in a week, compared to 10% across the UK and in London. Since this 15% figure has changed little in ten years, it points to more than 300,000 adults still finding nothing of interest on the radio, despite the addition of five new citywide local commercial stations in the last decade. Three. Local commercial radio’s share of listening in Manchester is below par and falling, registering only 39% in Manchester, compared to 43% in London and 45% in Birmingham. Five years ago, Manchester’s figure was 41%, indicating that local commercial radio as a whole is losing some of its appeal. Four. The BBC’s share of listening has grown in the last decade, despite competition from five new local commercial stations. The BBC presently attracts 50% of radio listening, whereas it was 48% ten years ago. Recently, there has been a noticeable shift towards BBC network radio (mainly Radios Two and Five) which now attracts 43% of radio listening, compared to 39% five years ago. Five. For a city that has such a strong identity, the people of Manchester are increasingly forsaking local radio for national stations. Local radio (both commercial and BBC) now attracts only 46% of radio listening, compared to 48% in London and 53% in Birmingham. Ten years ago, 50% of listening in Manchester was to local radio, showing that the five new local stations launched since then have simply 'cannibalised' local radio listening in Manchester. All the local stations are doing is adjusting the size of their slices to accommodate newcomers, while the cake itself is getting smaller. Six. Considerable overlap exists between Manchester commercial stations’ 'formats' as prescribed by Ofcom. Capital Gold 1458 and Magic 1152 both target the over-30s audience with a format of oldies. Nationally networked programming comprises up to 83% of the output of the former and 71% of the latter. These two station’s combined share is currently 5% whereas, ten years ago, when only Magic 1152 existed, its share was 10%. There is inherent redundancy in two 'local' stations competing for the same audience in a declining format and on the increasingly unpopular AM waveband, both with predominantly networked programming. Seven. Considerable overlap exists between Manchester commercial stations’ music outputs. In one randomly selected week, Music Control data shows that The Manchester, United Kingdom Radio Market ©2005 Grant Goddard page 2
  3. 3. the identical song was the most played record on both Key 103 and Galaxy 102. Despite the supposed difference between Key 103’s prescribed format as a “contemporary and chart music” station for 15 to 44 year olds, and Galaxy 102’s as a “rhythmic-based music” station for 15-29 year olds, half of the twenty most-played songs on Key 103 also featured in Galaxy 102’s fifty most played songs in the same week. Eight. Despite the similarity of some of their music output, the local commercial stations do succeed in attracting audiences of different ages. Whereas half of Galaxy 102’s listening comes from 15 to 24 year olds, half of Key 103’s listening derives from older 25 to 44 year olds, while half of Smooth FM’s listening comes from even older 35 to 54 year olds. Century 105’s more speech-orientated output attracts listeners between the ages of 25 and 54 years almost evenly. Because of the similarity of their formats, both Capital Gold 1552 and Magic 1152 attract audiences dominated by 45 to 64 year olds. Nine. Manchester’s 'heritage' FM/AM station, opened in 1974, has lost most of its audience to its commercial competitors. During the last ten years, Key 103’s share of listening has fallen from 23% to 10%, while Magic 1152’s has fallen from 10% to 2%. Neither is this decline confined to the 1994-1998 period when the five new commercial stations were launched. During the last two years, Key 103’s share of listening slid from 13% to 10%. In some recent surveys, BBC Radio Four has achieved a greater listening share than 'heritage' Key 103. If another new station were introduced to the market with a format that overlapped Key 103 and/or Magic 1552 (as Galaxy 102 and Capital 1458 do already), it would only cannibalise these stations’ audiences. Ten. Small peripheral stations in Greater Manchester achieve significant ratings. In addition to the seven Manchester-wide commercial stations, five localised FM stations were launched within the city’s fringes between 1990 and 1999, and can be heard in parts of the city. Tower FM attracts a 9% share of listening in Bolton/Bury, while Wish FM attracts 8%. Each achieves a respectable 2% share across the whole city, despite only being heard in part of it. Silk FM attracts a 6% share in Macclesfield, Revolution FM 4% in Oldham, and Imagine FM 3% in Stockport. These last two stations’ ratings translate to a 1% share across the whole city, impressive results for small local stations overshadowed by seven citywide commercial stations owned by the UK’s four largest radio groups. Eleven. Manchester has a considerable ethnic minority population. 19% of the central Manchester population, and 10% of the Greater Manchester population, are non-white. Only one of the seven Manchester-wide local commercial stations serves ethnic minorities, Asian Sound Radio on AM. By comparison, London has four citywide stations (plus one inner London station) that serve a range of ethnic minorities. Twelve. The Asian audience will soon be 'super served' by radio. 9% of the central Manchester population, and 6% of the Greater Manchester population, is Asian. Since its launch in 1996, Asian Sound Radio has never participated in RAJAR, so there is no way of quantifying its audience. Its monopoly over the The Manchester, United Kingdom Radio Market ©2005 Grant Goddard page 3
  4. 4. local Asian market has been broken by the arrival of several competing services on DAB and digital platforms. Already, BBC Asian Network (from Leicester) attracts an impressive 32,000 listeners a week in Greater Manchester, almost a quarter of the Asian population, who tune in for an average 12 hours per week, longer than any other station in Manchester. Audible in parts of Manchester on the Bradford/Huddersfield DAB multiplex, Sunrise Radio (from Bradford) attracts 11,000 listeners a week, equivalent to an 8% reach in the Asian population. Sunrise Radio’s youth brand, Yaar Radio (from London), is available on the same multiplex, along with Panjab Radio (from London) and Masti Radio (from Bradford). It is likely that Sunrise Radio’s new Asian talk format, Kismat, will also soon be available in the market on DAB. Thirteen. The black audience is notably underserved by radio in Manchester. 5% of the central Manchester population, and 1% of the Greater Manchester population, is black or black British. No analogue station exists to serve the black community, not even in the periphery of the area. Choice FM (from London) is carried on the Manchester DAB multiplex, but its Manchester audience is not measured. BBC 1Xtra attracts 11,000 listeners a week, but its audience is not exclusively black. Manchester suffers the ignominy that, in October 1989, it was the home of Britain’s first legal black radio station, Sunset Radio, but the licence was rescinded in October 1993 for financial mismanagement. Instead, the Radio Authority chose to replace it with a dance music station that was subsequently sold to Chrysalis Radio and re-branded as Galaxy 102. Fourteen. A substantial part of the youth market is not reached by radio in Manchester. 16% of 15-24 year olds never use radio in a week in Manchester, compared to 9% in London and 6% in Birmingham. Worse, 17% of males aged 15-24 find no reason to use radio in Manchester, compared to 10% in London and 8% in Birmingham. Whilst Galaxy 102 reaches almost half of 15-24 year olds in Manchester, the other half probably have no interest in dance or pop music and can find no suitable alternative radio station. This is the so-called 'iPod generation' who have turned to MP3s, CDs and internet radio for their entertainment. The grave danger for the radio industry is that, if a progressively larger section of the population no longer use radio in their youth, they might never acquire a radio listening habit. In the last five years alone, the proportion of 15-24 year olds not using radio has increased from 13% to 16% in Manchester. Fifteen. The constituent elements of the Manchester population will change significantly during the next two decades. Greater Manchester’s total population is projected to grow by only 5% between 2003 and 2028 but, within that, the population aged over 60 will increase by 36%, while the population aged under 20 will contract by 7%. The white population of Greater Manchester is projected to fall by 7% between 1996 and 2021, while the Asian population is projected to increase by 71% and the black population increase by 57% during that period. The Manchester, United Kingdom Radio Market ©2005 Grant Goddard page 4
  5. 5. Sixteen. Local identity seems critical to success in the Manchester radio market. Key 103’s licence requires it to include at least 18 hours a day of local programming and it achieves a 10% share; Century 105 carries at least 20 hours a day and has a 6% share; and Galaxy 102 has at least 12 hours a day (on weekdays) and a 7% share. On the other hand, Smooth FM and Magic 1152 each require only 7 hours a day of local programming and achieve shares of 3% and 2% respectively; while Capital Gold 1458 requires only 4 hours a day and has a 3% share. Unsurprisingly, the less local content is broadcast on a 'local' radio station, the less successful it seems to be. Seventeen. The award of a single FM licence in Manchester cannot hope to address all these issues. However, this one licence award should form part of a long-term licensing (and re-licensing) strategy that will tackle both the significant and challenging structural problems in the Manchester radio market and the city’s changing demography over the next two decades. The Manchester, United Kingdom Radio Market ©2005 Grant Goddard page 5
  6. 6. share of Manchester radio listening 2004 Q3 1999 Q3 1994 Q2 all radio 100% 100% 100% all commercial 50% 50% 49% commercial national 9% 9% 10% commercial national analogue 9% 9% 8% commercial national digital 0% 0% 2% commercial local/regional 41% 41% 39% all BBC 48% 48% 50% BBC national 39% 39% 43% BBC local/regional 9% 9% 7% all national 49% 48% 53% all local/regional 50% 50% 46% other 1% 2% 1% radio reach radio average hours 85% 24.0 86% 22.4 84% 20.4 BBC Radio 2 Key 103 BBC Radio 4 Galaxy 102 BBC Radio 1 Century FM BBC GMR BBC Radio 5 Live Classic FM Smooth FM Capital Gold TalkSport Magic 1152 Wish FM 102.4 (Wigan) Tower FM 107.4 (Bolton/Bury) BBC Radio 3 Virgin Radio BBC Asian Network Revolution 96.2 (Oldham) Imagine FM 104.9 (Stockport) Silk FM 106.9 (Macclesfield) Atlantic 252 Asian Sound other local commercial other BBC local other 19% 10% 10% 7% 6% 6% 6% 5% 4% 3% 3% 3% 2% 2% 2% 1% 1% 1% 1% 1% 0% ? 2% 1% 1% 15% 14% 10% 5% 9% 6% 5% 5% 4% 1% 1% 2% 6% 1% 1% 2% 1% 2% ? 7% 4% 1% 17% 23% 9% 10% 5% 3% 3% 10% 1% 2% 4% ? 8% 4% 2% source: RAJAR/RSL NB: “now” = RAJAR 2004 Q3 in Galaxy 102 TSA; “five years ago” = RAJAR 1999 Q3 in Galaxy 102 TSA; “ten years ago” = RAJAR 1994 Q2 in Key 103 TSA; other stations = RAJAR 2004 Q3 in their own TSA; “central Manchester” = Manchester local authority; “Greater Manchester” = Greater Manchester county; population data from National Statistics. The Manchester, United Kingdom Radio Market ©2005 Grant Goddard page 6
  7. 7. [First published in 'The Radio Magazine', #670, 12 February 2005, pp.16-17] Grant Goddard is a media analyst / radio specialist / radio consultant with thirty years of experience in the broadcasting industry, having held senior management and consultancy roles within the commercial media sector in the United Kingdom, Europe and Asia. Details at http://www.grantgoddard.co.uk The Manchester, United Kingdom Radio Market ©2005 Grant Goddard page 7