Record low figures for BBC Five Live after sporting slump

Last updated at 17:26 25 October 2007

BBC Radio Five Live has slumped to a new audience low, the latest figures have revealed.

The station, dubbed 'bloke radio' due to its coverage of live sports and news and mainly all-male presenters, is down 1.21 million on its peak five years ago according to new Rajar statistics.

Once the country's fourth most popular station, averaging more than six million listeners, its fall in listeners is being blamed on a poor summer of British sport.

With England losing at home to India in the Test series and Tim Henman's early exit from Wimbledon and Scotsman Andy Murray's no-show, Five Live's traditionally male audience lacked incentive to tune in.

Similarly no major international football tournament ensured reduced live sports commentary.

Its new digital sister station, Five Live Sports Extra, which drew in 730,000 listeners, is likely to have accounted for the disappointing figures.

In contrast, Five Live's commercial rival, TalkSport, was up year on year with 2.31 million listeners - 50,000 on this time last year.

It was also bad news for another of the BBC's flagship stations, Radio 4.

The station was down 220,000 on the previous quarter, with 9.26 million listeners, giving it its lowest audience share since the second quarter of 2006.

Even the station's stalwart show, The Archers, which has been accused of losing touch with its origins after a series of sensationalist story-lines, has also had a noticeable ratings slump.

With an audience of 4.51 million, it has dropped 200,000 listeners on the previous quarter.

Elsewhere there was mixed news for the BBC at Radio 1 which, despite losing listeners, posted its highest share of the audience - 10.6% - since 2000.

Radio 2, meanwhile, confirmed its position as Britain's most listened to station with 13.01 million listeners compared to 12.74 million during the same period last year.

The station has now had more than 13 million listeners for the past four quarters in a row.

Meanwhile, in the battle of the DJs, Radio 2's Chris Evans emerged triumphant, averaging 5.08 million listeners - up 80,000 on the last quarter and 200,000 from the same time last year.

Radio 1 breakfast host Chris Moyles failed to close the gap on his Radio 2 rival Terry Wogan, with both DJs losing listeners compared with the previous quarter.

The veteran Irishman's lead over Moyles grew slightly, however, from 660,000 to 700,000 listeners.

The Rajars also revealed that 44.9 million adults listen to UK radio stations each week with a new high of 15 per cent - up 2.2 per cent in 2006 - listening via a digital platform.

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