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Rajar Q4 2012: Absolute and Kiss grow but TalkSport falters as execs leave

Absolute Radio, Global's Classic FM and Bauer Media's Kiss network expanded their reach in Q4 2012, while TalkSport's audience declined 5% ahead of the departures of Moz Dee and Adam Bullock.

Christian O' Connell: presenter of the Absolute Radio Breakfast Show

Christian O' Connell: presenter of the Absolute Radio Breakfast Show

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According to the Rajar figures for the final three months of 2012, the main Absolute Radio station has a weekly reach of 1.77 million, an increase of 10.8% year on year and 14.7% quarter on quarter.

The Absolute Radio network, which includes sister digital stations such as Absolute 80s and Absolute Radio 00s, reached an average of 3.3 million listeners in Q4 2012, its biggest listenership in 11 years, and up 17.2% year on year and 12.0% on the quarter.

The news will be welcomed by outgoing chief operating officer Clive Dickens, ahead of his move to Australia, as well as by Absolute Radio's owner, as it tries to sell the station to suitors such as Bauer Media

UTV Media's TalkSport, which loses its programme and sales directors at the end of this month, reported an average weekly reach of 3.03 million listeners, a decline of 5.1% year on year although this was up 0.5% quarter on quarter.

Kiss, which went national at the end of 2010, had an average of 4.26 million listeners in Q4 2013, an increase of 2.1% year on year, but representing a decline of 2.1% when compared to the third quarter of 2012.

Classic FM, which has suffered moderate audience declines in recent quarters, reported a weekly reach of 5.37 million, up a modest 0.1% year on year but down 1.5% quarter on quarter.

Smooth Radio, which was sold to Global Radio as part of GMG Radio in July last year, had an average weekly reach of 3.28 million, down 1.2% year on year, but up 2.7% quarter on quarter.

Last year, Smooth Radio aped Absolute Radio by starting to sell the main station, alongside its sister digital station Smooth 70s. Combined, the Smooth brand reached a record of 3.77 million listeners in the final quarter.

The major networks of stations, including Heart, Capital, Magic and Real Radio all experienced moderate declines in their reach year on year in Q4 2013, with the steepest fall at Real Radio, down 6.8%.

Overall, digital platforms accounted for 33.0% of all radio listening in the final three months of the year, up from 31.3% in the third quarter of 2012 and 29.1% in the final three months of 2011.

Planet Rock, the loss-making digital station which was put up for sale last year, had an average weekly reach of 877,000 listeners in the final three months of 2013, an increase of 8.1% year on year and 1.5% quarter on quarter.

Digital-only Jazz FM has an average weekly reach of 608,000, an increase of a whopping 18.8% year on year, although this was a decline of 2.6% when compared to the third quarter of 2012.

The figures come from research carried out between 17 September 2012 and 16 December 2012.

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