BBC crisis as broadcaster loses ground to rival LBC

Paul Whitehouse celebrates the BBC's 100th anniversary

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The BBC is in crisis as it loses ground to its commercial radio rivals. Recent figures show the broadcaster’s listeners are less loyal than those of other stations, tuning in for less time before switching off.

LBC now accounts for 2.7 percent of all time spent listening to radio in the UK.

This puts it on the same level as BBC 5 Live, the corporation’s national talk and sport station.

More people tune in to 5 Live in a given week, according to the Guardian, but they are likely to listen for less time than those who tune into LBC.

RAJAR figures also suggest that GB News Radio has become the fastest-growing news station in the country, offering more competition to the BBC’s radar.

Former BBC political presenter Andrew Neil pointed out that LBC’s growing numbers are “helped by strong figures for Andrew Marr’s evening show”.

He added in a post on Twitter that BBC Radio 4’s Today programme has “lost half a million listeners” in the past year.

Around 1.3million people also listen to James O’Brien’s LBC radio show every week.

Guardian Media Editor Jim Waterson noted that commercial radio starting to surge ahead of BBC in listening figures “hasn’t been the case since the 90s”.

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Mr Waterson wrote: “Sticking money into presenters and marketing works.”

GB News Radio launched in January this year and is now the fourth fastest-growing station overall in the UK.

Other stations, including TalkRadio and Times Radio, have experienced drops in their listenership.

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The BBC last week celebrated – some say quietly – its 100th anniversary.

Bow Group Chairman Ben Harris-Quinney argued that it was now time the corporation packed up, having distanced itself too much from its listeners.

He told “Today if you tune into the BBC, you tune out of Britain.

“They are no longer the voice of a great nation, but mere propagandists for a narrow elite of metropolitan liberals.

“At 100 it may be time for us to reflect on a great history, but for us also to say – time to retire.” has approached the BBC for comment.

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