MacKenzie's £700,000 bill over Rajar case

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The Independent Online

The former editor of The Sun Kelvin MacKenzie, now the chairman and chief executive of The Wireless Group, was left facing a £700,000 legal bill after the High Court struck out a case brought by TWG against Radio Joint Audience Research (Rajar).

The former editor of The Sun Kelvin MacKenzie, now the chairman and chief executive of The Wireless Group, was left facing a £700,000 legal bill after the High Court struck out a case brought by TWG against Radio Joint Audience Research (Rajar).

Justice Timothy Lloyd said: "The allegations it [TWG] makes ... simply do not correspond to the facts."

TWG claimed that Rajar had delayed the introduction of new audience-measuring technology, thereby abusing its monopoly position and denying TWG the chance to accurately measure its listening figures.

The listening figures are crucial to radio companies when charging advertisers. TWG claims its main commercial station, talkSPORT, is listened to by six million adults; the official figures published by Rajar put it at closer to two million.

Audience figures are calculated by information gathered by listeners keeping a diary of the radio stations they listen to - but introducing more advanced technology has proved difficult in the UK due to the number of listening platforms and the overlap of broadcasting areas.

TWG, when making its initial allegation, had claimed that Rajar, rather than introduce new technology, "has opted instead to stick resolutely with practices having their origin in the middle of the last century".

Sally de la Bedoyere, the managing director of Rajar, said yesterday that the case brought by TWG was "ludicrous" and that Rajar "have been and remain at the forefront of bringing new technology to the industry". Rajar is committed to introducing new audience-measuring technology by 2007.

Mr MacKenzie, in a pre-prepared statement, said: "We will make them stick to this timetable. If they fail to do so, I will have no hesitation in starting fresh legal action." His company was looking for £66m in compensation for lost advertising revenue.

Rajar is owned by the BBC and the Commercial Radio Companies Association, of which TWG was a member until 2002 when it resigned.

TWG said yesterday it has been awarded a licence to operate a new commercial speech radio station in Edinburgh.

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