New Capital ratings 'better than expected'
Although Capital FM's reach - the number of listeners tuning in for at least five minutes each week - suffered a near 17% fall over the year, the station held its London audience share of 8.8% in the last quarter of 2002, contrary to City expectations. As a result, the group's share price partially recovered from last week's heavy falls by rising 6.3% at midday.
Paul Gooden, radio analyst at Morgan Stanley, commented: "I think the Rajar figures are bad but not as bad as had been expected. Especially considering what's happened to the share price in recent days and the fact people were expecting completely disastrous figures."
Chris Tarrant's Capital breakfast show suffered worse fortunes as it lost another 204,000 listeners in the last quarter, with half a million having now deserted the programme over the last six months. However, Capital's chief executive David Mansfield has put the fall down to the "significant disruption" caused by Tarrant deciding his future at the station, and expects to see the show's ratings improve in light of its relaunch.
City and media analysts now consider the next set of Rajar figures, released in April, to be pivotal following the reorganisation of Capital Radio's infrastructure, as well as changes to Capital FM's flagship show and music policy designed to stop further listeners switching to other London stations.