A study for the BBC in which 70 households went without the corporation’s services for little over a week has revealed some bad news for commercial radio.
The experiment made people realise just how much they get from the BBC for £2.80 a week, with most of those taking part changing their minds about value for money.
The participants were asked about how they coped without BBC services, including radio.
talkSPORT was described as a very poor substitute for 5 live whilst one participant said Capital was just daft and silly.
Radio 2 listeners said they under appreciated the quality of the station’s talent, in particular during commuting hours. They missed their regular shows, the music mix within them and the features and familiarity of the voices on air. Despite trying numerous alternatives, audiences felt that they were unable to find content of the quality they enjoyed on Radio 2.
Radio 4 was especially difficult for audiences who listened to this to replace, in particular the ‘Today’ programme. These respondents cited a lack of credible commercial speech radio alternatives, to the extent where they no longer listened to talk radio during the task period.
“You don’t realise how bad some of the other stations are. There’s one that’s supposed to be the equivalent to Radio 5live called TalkSPORT, and they talked the biggest load of nonsense that I’ve ever heard… it really is bad. TalkSPORT was a very poor substitute for 5live. The presenters were speaking rubbish.”
“Yeah, I prefer the presenters (on Radio 1). Capital was just… daft, silly, the music is really pop and charty with Capital. Daft, it plays daft games. With Radio 1, I really think it’s the best radio channel… they always look for facts that you might not know and that hidden gem type thing they became increasingly frustrated by the volume of advertising on commercial stations and what they perceived to be the repetitive nature of the content, which meant that they felt the need to re-tune their station frequently.”
“I hated it. I was really irritated, like, without having Radio 1 in my life… I just came to a point where I just stopped wanting to listen to radio because it wasn’t giving me what I wanted.”
But these are just a few listeners and can’t be representative of the large percentage of the population who listen to and enjoy commercial radio evenyday, as the commercial radio body, Radiocentre, told us: “It’s easy to trade anecdotal quotes and the sample size in this study is pretty small. The 35m people who listen to commercial radio every week clearly don’t agree with the findings. The argument about the BBC in the forthcoming Charter Renewal process will be about, in part, distinctiveness and universality and we are all looking forward to the debate.”