BBC Radio 4 big winner as listeners quit Radio Scotland

SCOTTISH regional radio stations have seen listener numbers fall back this year while the BBC's UK-wide programming – in particular Radio 3 and 4 – have seen audiences growing strongly, new figures show.

BBC Radio Scotland saw audience ratings dip by 13.2 per cent this quarter, to an estimated 822,000 people, from a year ago. Some Scottish commercial stations also saw significant falls.

The latest Radio Joint Audience Research (Rajar) figures show BBC Radio 4's mix of news, culture, comedy and quiz shows as the big winner, with 10.22 million tuning in each week, up by 750,000, its biggest total in at least ten years. The Today show alone had 6.6 million listeners.

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"The move to Radio 4 is the story of the day," said Charles Fletcher, of Caledonia Media.

BBC Radio Scotland saw its reach – measured by the number of people aged over 15 tuning in for at least five minutes a week – fall to 822,000 in the third quarter of 2009, down from 947,000 a year ago and from 938,000 in the second quarter of this year.

Jeff Zyncinski, head of Radio Scotland, said the dip partly reflected the summer gap in Scottish Premier League coverage.

"I'm very proud of the programmes that we have been producing lately," he said, "from the Under the Influence season, looking at Scotland's relationship with alcohol, to host Brian Taylor's new debate format on Friday afternoons."

The Bauer radio group saw some of its commercial stations register falls, with its Clyde 2 audience 25.2 per cent down on last year, though its ForthOne station was up 8.8 per cent.

The BBC's classical station, Radio 3, also recorded its highest figures in five years, with 2.2 million listeners. Radio 1 rose marginally to 11.11 million while Radio 2 was also up to 13.62 million.