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Four’s one too many on FM dial: Wayman

AUSTEREO Perth general manager Linda Wayman has upped the ante in the local radio ratings battle by suggesting the city cannot sustain four commercial FM radio stations.

Ms Wayman said Perth’s newest radio entrant, Nova, was feeling the pinch in a competitive market, citing recent radio ratings results as an indication of things to come.

“For Nova it is going to be quite tough going; it is a very competitive market with four radio stations and one will fall by the wayside,” she said.

“The indication so far is that it will be Nova.”

However, Nova has disputed the most recent radio ratings survey, this week calling for some information to be deleted from the data.

Nova managing director Gary Roberts said the survey results were flawed and that Nova would maintain a strong position in the youth market.

 “It [the radio market] is the most competitive it has ever been but we have just had a record revenue month in August and September looks healthy,” he said.

“Why would I, after 23 years of building up two of Perth’s most successful radio stations, go and do this [Nova] if I thought it couldn’t work?”

Nova recorded a 40 per cent drop in its core market share, 18-24 year olds, in AC Nielsen’s radio survey number five 2003. That equated to a 10.3 percentage point fall in market share, relegating the station from first to fourth in that segment.

Nova this week announced it would submit its survey five audit research to the Commercial Radio Australia Research Committee at its next scheduled meeting on October 7 2003.

It will also ask for an investigation into the survey operation, including the call-back situation with regard to diary keeping .

Mr Roberts said Nova’s analysis had discovered several inconsistencies in the survey. Among the findings disputed by Nova are that Radio National secured a number one ranking in the males aged 10 to 17 for time spent listening and the same result for females 25 to 34. Also in survey five, 6IX jumped from the number nine position to number one for 18-24 male time spent listening, another result that puzzled Mr Roberts.

He said Nova was mindful of how the results of survey five would impact on the next survey.

“Those results are carried forward to the next survey, so we don’t get a clean result until survey eight, which is in December,” Mr Roberts said.

And while he disagreed with the results, he said Nova had not been adversely affected.

“People who are with us get results and since the survey was released we have not lost any business,” Mr Roberts told WA Business News.

Ms Wayman said anomalies were always present in surveys and that Nova’s anaylsis was a red herring.

 “If you get a bad survey you get a bad one, it’s swings and roundabouts. This is the way AC Nielsen has done it for years and there will be glitches but it is the trends that matter,” she said.

“The trend is that Nova has been going down for the last two surveys. It is supported by a lot of television advertising. If it is going so well then why the need advertise? The gap between 92.9 and Nova is growing. The gap is 4.9 per cent, and no glitch will account for that.”

Mr Roberts agreed that survey anomalies were a reality but said he had never seen so many in the one survey.

Ms Wayman said Austereo Perth (which also manages 94.5) had increased its revenue by nearly $1 million.

“That is in all market growth and we have achieved that when Nova has been in the market for seven months,” she said.

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