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Battle of the breakfast shows rages on in the capital

LONDON - Johnny Vaughan will have a lot to live up to when he succeeds Chris Tarrant on the 95.8 Capital FM breakfast show, if yesterday's Rajar figures are anything to go by.

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The battle of London's breakfast shows rages on with 95.8 Capital FM now pulling in 1.2m listeners, widening the gap between it and rival Heart FM. It added 150,000 listeners from the last quarter and market share has increased from 7.6% to 8.9%.

There was more good news for Capital, as the Christian O'Connell breakfast show on sister new-music station Xfm has remained steady. However, although it hoped to make the top 10, O'Connell's show remains as the 11th biggest breakfast show in London.

The award-winning show, which celebrates its third birthday party today, on the guitar-led and alternative dance music station attracted 257,000 listeners to the breakfast show, compared with 258,000 last quarter, and had a market share of 1.6%.

Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant's Saturday show, Richard Bacon on Sundays and Zoe Ball's drivetime slot, have all contributed to the success of the station, which attracts a national reach of 614,000 and 514,000 in London, compared with last quarter's London figure of 502,000. Ball was replaced on the drivetime show by Lauren Laverne at the start of this year.

Self-styled saviour of Radio 1 Chris Moyles may breathe a sigh of relief as listener figures for the station's breakfast show have marginally gone up -- 672,000 listeners compared with 669,000 the previous quarter. However, Radio 1's overall figures fell from 10.5m to 9.4m year on year. Moyles replaced Sara Cox on the breakfast show in January as the BBC looked to restore the fortunes of the station.

BBC Radio 2, although slightly down overall from last year, picked up 700,000 new listeners in the final quarter -- 7.8m tuned in to veteran DJ Terry Wogan, his highest audience to date.

Bam Bam's breakfast show on Emap's Kiss FM was also losing ground in London -- 716,000m listeners tuned in this quarter compared with 789,000 last quarter.

Virgin's breakfast show, hosted by Pete and Geoff, was also down. Listeners dropped dramatically from 660,000 last quarter to 513,000 this time round. Market share for the station collapsed to 1.8% from 2.6%, breaking an improving trend seen through the last few quarters.

The results have prompted Virgin Radio's owner SMG to dismiss the Rajar figures.

A spokesperson for Virgin said: "I don't think this result reflects the true performance of Virgin. It is contrary to our own independent research and to our ad-hoc feedback."

The Wireless Group's Kelvin MacKenzie has similarly declared war with Rajar over its diary-based methods of measurement.

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