The BBC Asian Network has witnessed a dramatic fall in the latest round of radio listening figures, released this morning by audience measuring body, RAJAR.

National

The data for quarter ending September 2009 (Q3/09) saw the BBC Asian Network’s figures drop from 421,000 to 357,000 – a decline of 64,000 listeners during the sampled period. It was only during the last quarter that the station had picked up its audience but has now declined again.

The news will surely come as a surprise to many especially after the station had gone all-out in teaming up with a string of melas/gigs in the summer. In fact, the station had branded the events feature a ‘Summer Of Melas’, where presenters and operational staff hosted live shows from these outdoor gigs like the London Mela, Baishaki Mela, Nottingham Mela, East London Mela and Cardiff Mela, amongst others.

The public service broadcaster has already come under attack earlier this year after a London newspaper claimed that the station had lost a fifth of its listeners despite spending more than 25?million in two years.

Andy Parfitt, Controller, BBC Asian Network said, “While these figures are disappointing, we have made major changes to the schedule this year and are in the early stages of a long term strategy that I am confident our team of presenters and staff can deliver.”

Since the start of the year, the BBC Asian Network has shed 48,000. The previous nine months (March – December 2008) were not so favourable for the station either – its ratings consistently tumbled with each quarter.

National leader, Sunrise Radio continues to pave the way with a weekly reach of 469,000 – a loss of 25,000 listeners during July and September this year. The station is still riding high after acquiring Club Asia in the London market – details below.

Local

Sunrise Radio’s local output in Greater London continues to flourish, most likely due to news about rival Club Asia’s administration that was leaked out first by BizAsia.co.uk in the sampled period.

The Litt Corporation station’s weekly reach grew from 330,000 in Q2/09 to 355,000 now. Further good news for sister-station, Kismat Radio, which crossed the 100,000 mark for the first time this year. Its weekly reached upped from 91,000 to 114,000 – adding 23,000 new listeners during this quarter.

Troubled brand Club Asia (now known as the Litt Corporation’s Buzz Asia) yo-yoed back to 188,000 – the figure it moved up from in the last quarter. In Q2/09, the station peaked with a weekly reach of 202,000 and now drops 14,000 listeners to 188,000. It remains to be seen how the rebranded Buzz Asia performs in the next set of RAJAR statistics.

Another Litt Corporation station, Punjabi Radio dropped out of RAJAR altogether and thus data for this quarter was not published.

However, independent digital-only radio station Panjab Radio, which broadcasts in London, West Midlands and West Yorkshire lost 5,000 listeners, falling slightly from its high with 61,000 in Q2/09 to 56,000 as it stands now. Its listening hours also fell by a margin to 7.3 hours.

Other UK based Asian radio stations such as Radio XL in Birmingham, Sabras Radio in Leicester and Asian Sound in Manchester do not subscribe to RAJAR.