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Jazz FM drops traditional playlist to appeal to advertisers

LONDON - Jazz FM will drop traditional jazz daytime playlists in favour of soul and R&B to appeal to advertisers after communications watchdog Ofcom agreed the station could change its format today.

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The London-based station, owned by the Guardian Media Group, instigated the changes to make the station more attractive to advertisers.

A sudden surge in young soul singers like Jamie Callum, Joss Stone and Katie Melua has meant the genre is becoming more popular, yet there is not a station that is devoted to playing the music.

The station has had the 50% jazz quota on its daytime schedule scrapped but increased its evening jazz coverage from 40 to 45 hours a week. In addition, its flagship programme 'Dinner Jazz' will extend from two to three hours a week.

John Myers, chief executive of GMG radio, said: "The policy we are going on is ratings by day and reputation by night. Jazz is much more of a night time listen so the changes fit well."

The changes also affect GMG's Smooth FM, which broadcasts to the North-West of England.

Jazz FM has been in the process of rebranding since January, when Kitcatt Nohr Alexander Shaw was appointed to its £2m advertising account. It launched its first advertising in April this year, with a series of posters promoting the diversity of its playlist.

Guardian Media Group won a takeover bid for Jazz FM in June 2002 in a deal worth £44.5m.

The station has been improving its ratings, adding 131,000 listeners in the first three months to September to bring the total number of listeners to 845,000.

In its 13-year history, Jazz FM has yet to make a profit, although Myers is forecasting that it will move into profit this year after reporting a loss of £2m last year and £6.3m the year before.

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