Business

All we hear is radio gaga

Is there an exercise more indulgent than the publicity that follows the announcement of the commercial radio ratings results?

The participants are radio people, the reactions are what radio people do: talk it up, talk it fast and sing their own praises. There's no room for pause or uncertainty. You can't allow dead air. No matter what happens, win, lose or collapse - everyone's a winner, baby

The latest GfK audience survey for the commercial stations from January to June is out. 

Stripped of the Kool-Aid, here's what it shows:

- NZME stations have clawed back some of the distance they have progressively fallen behind MediaWorks stations - this time achieving an overall market share of 40 with MediaWorks on 50, compared with 38 to 51. 

- Newstalk ZB improved a bit in Auckland from the last survey released in May, back into double figures at 11.0 from a historic collapse to 9.6 - but ZB is still well off its heyday and behind its position of a year ago. Then the station would record shares of 14s and 13s in the city.  

- Mike Hosking ditto - although his drop in Auckland remains stark (18 a year ago, down to 13 or so last survey and now back to 15).  This was the first 'clean' survey without any of Paul Henry's breakfast audience count from last year's Radio Live show. Duncan Garner's replacement AM show - which is also rated separately for its television simulcast - lost share again in Auckland between surveys (5.2 to 4.3) and nationally (5.4 to 5.0).

- ZB lost its number one place in Wellington to a surging The Breeze, which recorded 13.9 market share to 12.4 - nationally ZB held onto its top place at 10.3 share, ahead of The Breeze on 8.2 which pipped The Edge for second.

- NZME's music stations which a year ago didn't feature in the county's top five, picked up again, with Coast finding some life after barren ratings patches. Nationally, the top ranks were 1. The Breeze, 2. The Rock, 3. The Edge and Coast, 5. More FM, and 6. Sound and ZM.

- The rankings for cumulative audience nationwide - the number of different listeners aged 10 plus reached by a station across the whole week - still have The Edge on top with nearly 650,000 ahead of The Breeze (521,000), More (513,000) and ZB in fourth on 502,000.

These GfK ratings do not include Radio New Zealand. Its separate GfK audience survey is due out next week. In the last round RNZ National, its Morning Report breakfast programme and other segments had the highest audiences in the market.

NZME was cock-a-hoop with ZB's latest ratings. MediaWorks not so much. This week's big 'talent' announcement that More FM breakfast host Simon Barnett would leave MediaWorks for ZB - but bizarrely may not be on air there for 18 months - would not have improved the MediaWorks mood.

One radio industry player not from either major company said despite NZME's obvious delight in Newstalk arresting its ratings drift, the station and Hosking's slump in Auckland from a year ago was a worry.

"It is interesting to deliver an 18 share at breakfast a year ago then 13 and now around 15. It's pretty scary.  And you would expect them to have picked up with Paul Henry going. It's pretty interesting in the way they've spun it." ZB's 6-9am ratings in the 2016 surveys were 17.7, 17.9 and 14.2 in Auckland.

Ratings are vital to radio companies' revenues.

MediaWorks is understood to have Australian radio company Southern Cross Austereo, where MediaWorks chief executive Michael Anderson used to work, considering whether to make an offer for the radio business. The interest is reputed to be in the radio operations only, not television which loses money and could end up being sold elsewhere for a nominal price like $1. The two parts of the business would need to be separated, undoing the integration driven by the former MediaWorks chief executive Mark Weldon.

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