Extent of BBC Radio Oxford listening figures drop revealed

BBC Radio Oxford
BBC Radio Oxford

The number of listeners tuning into BBC Radio Oxford has dropped since last year, new figures have revealed.

The latest data, complied by the Radio Joint Audience Research (RAJAR), estimates that BBC Radio Oxford reached an average of 63,000 listeners each week in the six months to March.

This was down from 73,000 in the six months to March 2022.

READ MORE: World War Two grenade fished out of River Thames in Abingdon

RAJAR carries out an ongoing survey of users based on what stations they listen to and for how long.

The market share of BBC Radio Oxford also fell over this same period from 4.1 per cent to 3.5 per cent compared to other available stations.

In October, the corporation set out proposals that would see local radio stations share more content and broadcast fewer programmes unique to their areas.

It would mean local programming restricted before 2pm and afternoon programmes across England shared between its 39 local radio stations.

Noel McClean, national secretary of Bectu, a union for the creative industries, said: "We have sympathy for the position it is trying to operate in – but all roads lead back to the need for a properly funded BBC."

Speaking of the planned cuts to local news services, Mr McClean added: “A less local BBC is a much-diminished BBC."

He said decisions about its future have been driven by short-term thinking and political point-scoring.

Instead, Mr McClean called for an evidence-based review of "what kind of BBC we want, what we want the corporation to do, and how that can best be delivered".

Across the UK, RAJAR figures show weekly BBC local radio listenership fell from around 8.6 million people in the year to March 2022 to 7.4 million this year, with market share dropping from 6.1 per cent to 5.5 per cent.

In the latest survey period, the average listener tuned in to BBC Radio Oxford for around 5.4 hours every week – clocking up a total of 342,000 hours weekly.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport said it "remains disappointed" about plans to reduce local output and has met with BBC bosses to express their concerns.

A BBC spokesman said: “These figures often fluctuate - particularly for news and community focused stations such as local radio.

"We have a plan to reach more people with local stories and news across England over the next 12 months."

He continued: "We know audience habits are changing which is why we need to transform what we do to achieve a better balance between our local online and broadcast services.

"We are committed to reaching more people in more communities across England."