The Today Network’s disastrous Royal prank call linked to the death of a British nurse led to Sydney’s radio advertising market declining in December, new figures have revealed.
Faced by a growing advertiser boycott, Southern Cross Austereo was forced to pull all ads from the Today Network’s Sydney station 2Day FM as it dealt with a global backlash to the stunt by presenters Michael Christian and Mel Greig. 2Day FM has Sydney’s largest audiences and commands the market’s greatest ad revenues.
In order to get its ads back on the air, 2Day FM pledged to donate its profits for the final days of the year to the nurse’s family.
In what was expected to be a month of growth in the Sydney market, revenues instead declined by 2.09% to $15.529m – a drop of about $300,000 compared to the same month in 2011. The numbers were revealed in data released today by Commercial Radio Australia.
However, the Today Network’s strategy of focusing attention only on its Sydney station – although the prank call on the Summer 30 was a national broadcast – was successful in insulating revenue in other markets.
As a result, Melbourne has moved past Sydney for only the third time in recent years to be Australia’s biggest radio advertising market. The Today Network’s Fox FM is the market leader in Melbourne.
An advertiser boycott of 2GB’s Alan Jones will also have contributed to Sydney’s poor performance.
In December Melbourne’s radio revenue grew by 2.66% to $16.371m. Elsewhere, Adelaide was down 1.36% in December to $5.027m, Perth was up 2.56% to $7.716m and Brisbane was down 7.77% to $8.354m.
The disappointing finish to the year – which saw a 0.91% drop across the five metro markets in December – contributed to a decline for the whole year of 1.28 per cent drop compared to 2011. Perth was the only city to record a gain.
Advertising revenue for 2012 shows:
- Sydney down 1.71% to $208.657 million
- Melbourne down 1.19% to $202.330 million
- Adelaide down 0.19% to $64.645 million
- Brisbane down 2.52% to $106.824 million
- Perth up 0.27% to $91.562 million.
“Radio has had a softer year but once again has shown its resilience and competed well when compared to other traditional media,” CRA boss Joan Warner said. “Results for the year show patchy figures for the five metropolitan markets with some performing better than others at different times, again dependent on local influencing factors.”
There was, however, a rise in audience with 9.5m Australians tuning into radio each week, up from 9.4 million in 2011 with the breakfast slot remaining the most popular.