GWR plans to take on BBC with Classic ad break ploy

GWR is set to reduce the frequency of its advertising breaks to compete more effectively against the BBC

The radio network, which is currently planning a merger with the Capital Radio Group, is looking to follow the example it has already set with its station Classic FM in reducing the number of ad breaks to achieve more standout for advertisers.

The latest Rajar figures from July to September showed BBC radio stations taking a record 54.4% share of all radio listening, versus commercial radio’s depleted share of 43.7%, suggesting that heavy promotion of BBC stations across the corporation’s television offering has renewed public interest.

Ralph Bernard, executive chairman of the GWR Group, said in the company’s interim financial statement that the radio advertising market had “been increasingly competitive with consumer spending showing signs of slowing down and mounting audience pressure from BBC radio”.

A spokesman for GWR said: “We’ve done it once with Classic FM, the question is can you do that with general pop music radio output, can you get to that endpoint? “It’s respecting the adverts as more a part of the programme content, than something that happens in a discrete little chunk and seeing how you can get them to integrate better into the programme output and be a better listen for the audience.”

Mark Middlemas, head of radio at Universal McCann, welcomed the proposed move from GWR: “We’d actively encourage it for clients, it’s a fantastic move, if it means the consumers are more attentive and less likely to zone out.”

GWR Group’s advertising revenues in October were down 8.7% on last year, and November revenues were forecast to be down by 6.6%. National advertising revenues at Classic FM were up 5.3% in the six months until 30 September.

By Mark Banham

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