Kelvin MacKenzie sues over listening figures

Kelvin MacKenzie, the former editor of
The Sun and the chief executive of the Wireless Group, yesterday began court proceedings against the agency that produces radio listening figures, claiming to have lost out on £66m from its "flawed" data which he claims underestimates TWG's audience.

Kelvin MacKenzie, the former editor of The Sun and the chief executive of the Wireless Group, yesterday began court proceedings against the agency that produces radio listening figures, claiming to have lost out on £66m from its "flawed" data which he claims underestimates TWG's audience.

"I have spent more than three years trying to persuade the radio industry that the diary, pencil and short-term memory should be replaced by a technology that measures radio audiences more accurately," Mr MacKenzie said. At present, the Radio Joint Audience Research (Rajar) agency measures radio audiences by asking members of the public to keep a diary of what stations they have listened to. Mr MacKenzie claims that TWG, which owns Talksport radio, loses out on £1.5m of advertising a month because Rajar underestimates its audience by about 4.7 million a week.

Mr MacKenzie wants an electronic system introduced that picks up and records which stations have been listened to.

Rajar, which is jointly owned by the BBC and the Commercial Radio Companies Association, ran tests on the equipment last year and has said it will look at further tests in the summer.

"My opponents have desperately tried to kick the issue in to the long grass because they are making a lot of money out the system," Mr MacKenzie said. He claims the tests were conducted with only 12 people, all of whom were Rajar staff.

Rajar yesterday dismissed TWG's claims as "ludicrous" and said the case was likely to be struck out before it got to court. Sally de la Bedoyere, the managing director of Rajar, said it had undertaken "exhaustive tests" of electronic methods.

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