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Big hits keep coming as radio fight hots up

TWO distinct battlegrounds have emerged in the fight for listeners on the FM radio dial.

The year’s first radio ratings results released this week show that 94.5 and 96fm are slugging it out for the 25-39 market segment, while Nova and 92.9 are carving up the youth segment.

According to Marketforce group media and communications director Simon te Brinke, Perth’s radio stations will look to consolidate this year.

“How do you consolidate and hang on to your regular listeners? Keep delivering trusted content – music, a winning team – announcers, and throw in a couple of fun listener promotions along the way,” Mr te Brinke said.

96fm’s move to an older demographic in response to Nova’s positioning in the youth segment last year appears to be working.

96fm recorded a jump of 4.9 percentage points in the 25-39 segment, a figure 0.4 per cent shy of its 2003 ratings peak of 19.5 per cent market share.

Declan Kelly, general manager of Southern Cross Broadcasting, owner of 96fm and 6PR, said 96fm was aiming to cement its place as a clear runner up to long-time market leader 94.5, which was virtually competitor free until last year.

“What we are aiming to do is consolidate our position as a strong number two and make some ground,” he said.

96fm launched a television campaign earlier this year to further promote its move to an older demographic.

Mr Kelly said that advertising would continue for another few weeks.

“We thought there was some confusion out there that we were still young, so we have the TV ads with a theme to say we’ve changed and we hope that people who haven’t tried us  [before] will.”

The 25-39 demographic is now clearly being fought over by 96fm and 94.5, with Nova and 92.9 both recording losses in the segment.

Nova’s gain this period was a staggering 11.6 percentage points in the 18-24 segment.

It now has 31.7 per cent of the market. 92.9 is next on 19.7 per cent, ahead of 94.5 at 10.4 per cent and 96fm on 10 per cent.

Austero general manager Linda Wayman said while 92.9 and Nova were fiercely competing in the 18-24 segment, she wanted 92.9 to be number one in the under 40 segment this year.

92.9 lost 4.4 percentage points in the 25-39 demographic.

She said the radio market would become more competitive in the second half of the next financial year as the national expansion of DMG’s Nova network took effect.

“The national market accounts for 30 per cent of revenues in Perth and it will get more competitive as DMG expands its network into Brisbane,” Ms Wayman said.

On the AM band, 6PR recorded several losses in segments, while ABC720 grew marginally.

Mr Kelly said 6PR would receive a boost in listeners as they become more familiar with recent on-air changes. 

6PR recently appointed Deborah Kennedy as its on-air newsreader, with Mr Kelly suggesting she would also feature on Paul Murray’s morning program.

“Deborah will read the news for us and she will also fill in and sit alongside Paul Murray and have regular segments,” Mr Kelly said.

“We are going to have better football coverage this year and have spent a lot of money upgrading the transmitter sites.”

Mr te Brinke said there would be two significant factors to affect the radio market this year.

“One is new promotional and programming staff and the other is a bullish TV market,” he said.

“With some TV networks opting to flick bonus activity and adopting fixed policy negotiating rates, the TV networks will need to deliver audiences this year to ensure cost efficiencies are met for marketers.”

Mr te Brinke said marketers would turn to radio and press to deliver campaign objectives as television advertising space became more difficult to achieve.

 

“What we are aiming to do is consolidate our position as a strong number two and make some ground.”

- Declan Kelly

 

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