RTE Radio shows make major gains in survey


RTÉ RADIO shows such as Liveline, The Marian Finucane Showand News at Onehave made major gains in listenership in the latest JNLR/TNS mrbi survey.

The listenership survey shows the State broadcaster retained its hold on the top 10 most listened-to programmes in the survey period January-December 2008.

The gap also widened between its 10th most popular show – Conversations with Eamon Dunphy– and Today FM’s highest-rating programme – The Ray D’Arcy Show.

Ray D’Arcy’s show slipped out of the top 10 last year but the gap has widened since then, and 15,000 listeners now separate his show from Eamon Dunphy’s Saturday morning show.

Ray D’Arcy, Ian Dempsey and The Last Word’sMatt Cooper all lost listeners in this survey when compared with the October 2007 to September 2008 period, but Today FM highlighted the fact that the independent station had finally achieved the same daily adult listenership as 2FM. The RTÉ station’s “listened yesterday” figure fell 1 per cent to 16 per cent, while Today FM retained its 16 per cent figure.

The RTÉ news programme Morning Irelandremained the most listened-to radio show in the State with 437,000 listeners, while Liveline continued its relentless rise with 14,000 more listeners, bringing its audience to 392,000.

But the big winner at RTÉ was Marian Finucanewho gained 16,000 more listeners for her Sunday morning show and 8,000 more for her Saturday programme.

Her interviews with people such as Nuala Ó’Faoláin and Seán FitzPatrick of Anglo Irish Bank have cemented her Saturday morning position as the third most listened-to show in the State.

After losing 9,000 listeners in the last survey, 2FM’s Gerry Ryan gained 1,000 listeners this time around, moving him ahead of Ryan Tubridy’s morning show. The Tubridy Show was the only one in the top 10 to lose listeners in the last survey period. His audience fell by 1,000 in the last three months of the year after making gains in the previous survey.

The battle for the teatime slot between RTÉ and Today FM is no longer a close-run thing, with RTÉ’s Drivetimesurging ahead with an extra 11,000 listeners. Today FM’s The Last Word lost 3,000 listeners, so 36,000 listeners now separate the two shows which were neck-and-neck earlier last year.

Newstalk’s evening show The Right Hooklost 5,000 listeners when compared with the previous survey. George Hook’s show now has 95,000 listeners and remains Newstalk’s flagship show. Lunchtime with Eamon Keanegained 6,000 listeners on the last survey while Off the Ball with Eoin McDevittgained 4,000 listeners.

The JNLR survey found no change in the overall radio listenership, with 85 per cent of adults saying they listened to radio.

Regional and local radio’s “listened yesterday” figure increased by 1 per cent to 55 per cent.

RTÉ Radio 1 increased its market share slightly to almost 22 per cent, while regional and local stations held 49.6 per cent of the market share – a 0.4 per cent increase on the previous survey.

Today FM, RTÉ 2FM and Newstalk all recorded small decreases in market share.

The five most listened-to local stations all increased their market share, with Highland Radio claiming more than 60 per cent of the market share in its catchment area. Mid West Radio’s share was more than 56 per cent, while Shannonside/Northern Sound, Tipp FM and Radio Kerry also made gains.

FM104 retained its position as the most listened-to radio station in the Dublin market with a “listened yesterday” figure of 20 per cent.

The Independent Broadcasters of Ireland said the independent radio sector had held up very well despite the recession, but it criticised RTÉ’s “unfair competitive advantage”.

Its chairman Willie O’Reilly said it was unfair that RTÉ could promote its radio stations liberally on television.

“The cosy family relationship between RTÉ Radio and its television stations meant that RTÉ Radio was not constrained in promotional spend last year, unlike the independent sector, which, like many other businesses, faced restricted marketing budgets over the past 12 months,” he said.