Tuesday, 8 April 2008

More “What Are They Smoking at the CBC?" Department: New BBM Figures Show Classical Stations Doing Well

The Bureau of Broadcast Measurement stats for the first quarter of 2008 were released yesterday, and I don’t see anything in the ones from Montreal and Toronto that indicates Canadians don’t like classical music, or that dumbing down increases listenership.

In Toronto, the all classical station CFMX had 2.6 per cent of the market, while Radio Two had 1.9. In Montreal, among French listeners, the all classical CJPX had 4.4 per cent, and Espace Musique (Radio Can’s equivalent of Radio Two), 3.2. Among Anglophone listeners, CJPX had 3.4 (the highest of any French station among Anglos by far) and Radio Two, 3.7. There's an audience for classical music out there, it seems to me.

Another interesting thing in Montreal is that Radio-Can’s equivalent to Radio One, la Première chaine, leads all other radio stations in over all listeners, at 14.7 per cent. Its programming in generally more intelligent that Radio One, and its morning slot (5:30-8:30 a.m., C’est bien meilleur le matin) has 20.3 per cent, hot on the heels of the front runner (also a relatively intelligent, news and current events show) with 21.3 per cent. The Montreal stats come from a survey of 5200 listeners during eight weeks in January and February.

Like many others who wrote to Hubert Lacroix, the new CBC president, protesting the changes, I got an e-mail yesterday, explaining (supposedly) what is going on. One of the things he says is: “In fact, according to the latest BBM survey only 3.1 per cent of Canadians who listen to radio tune in to this network.” Perhaps that is true: the BBM figures you can get for free don’t seem to have nationwide stats. But when you look how the competition fares when it presents serious music programming, the conclusions to draw are not the ones the CBC has.

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