BBC Radio Scotland is in terminal decline with 35% fewer listeners in only 7 years


I wrote a piece today properly representing the findings of Audit Scotland’s survey of NHS Scotland at:

Some readers wrote to say how disgusted they had been by Good Morning Scotland’s biased, pro-Unionist misrepresentation of the survey findings. I can’t listen for health reasons.

However, none of this may matter for much longer as the audiences for BBC Radio Scotland are clearly in terminal decline. Leaving aside the dubious use of counting those who listen for as little as 5 minutes, here are the figures

Q2 2011          1 350 00

Q2 2012          959 000

Q3 2015          948 000

Q3 2016          901 000

Q3 2017          870 000

480 000 in only 7 years! That’s 35% or an average fall of 5% per year. At that rate, they’ll be smaller than many local or independent stations such as Capital which has 544 000.


35 thoughts on “BBC Radio Scotland is in terminal decline with 35% fewer listeners in only 7 years

  1. Piotr October 26, 2017 / 4:02 pm

    Do you have any idea where are the listeners going? Are they turning off completely or switching? If so where? Is the appetite in Scotland for a Scottish media waning?


    • johnrobertson834 October 26, 2017 / 4:12 pm

      I suspect they’re going online for their news and entertainment. Youtube?


    • nor hunter October 26, 2017 / 5:15 pm

      I have switched over to talksport only because I don’t here any bias

      Liked by 1 person

    • Jane Jones October 26, 2017 / 8:57 pm

      BBC Radio Scotland are hardly ‘A Scottish media’ They are an english propaganda machine. Its thanks to BBC Radio Scotland that there IS a demand for ‘a Scottish media’


    • macdonaldmurdo October 27, 2017 / 9:51 am

      I ceased listening at the time of the referendum. Couldn’t take the bias anymore. Ten years earlier it was quite a good station with some good (and critically aware) cultural coverage. It’s not lack of appetite for a Scottish media, it’s just that radio Scotland is no longer in any useful sense a Scottish medium.


    • Robert Mac October 27, 2017 / 12:17 pm

      They are fd up with the British Biased Corp spreading lies & Propaganda against the Scottish People & Scots Govt ….A mouthpiece for the Tory Gov & Westminster failed system


    • James Kilkullen October 30, 2017 / 8:08 am

      Theres a huge appetite for SCOTTISH media, thats why people are turning away from Radio “Scotland” it only broadcasts British or anti Scottish stories


  2. Ludo Thierry October 26, 2017 / 4:36 pm

    Hi John – In the context of The great Scottish Public being fed a diet of Radio Jockland this is, indeed, good news. In the context of the Great Scottish Public being denied a quality, professional radio broadcast service which they can trust and identify as relevant to their lives – this is rather sad news.

    Once we achieve Indy and can establish an impartial, honest, professional National Broadcaster (rather than the current ‘Notional’ (State propaganda) broadcaster) then – hopefully – quality radio will regain her throne (I, for one, miss it very badly).

    Given the perfect ingredients available over these 7 years to demonstrate the relevance of radio news and current affairs (with massive public interest in and engagement with the dramatic political/social developments in Scotland over these years) it takes a real, heavy duty, obsessional-type of britnat idiocy to manage to destroy that radio service and drive away the ‘captive’ listenership. (Congrats beeb Jockland – you can be proud of a job well done as you pick up your OBEs and obscenely ‘generous’ pay pokes).

    Thanks, Ludo

    Liked by 1 person

  3. bedelsten October 26, 2017 / 5:06 pm

    I was going to enjoy being the pedant; the email did mention to ‘viewers’. However, moving on, there appears to be a steady decline in licence fee payers and Scotland leads the way with the latest figures suggesting 10% of Scottish households choose not to have their sensibilities offended by endless SNPBaad, fitba and cats (or so I am led to believe).

    It would be interesting to plot the decline against the rise of on-line media and try and predict when the cross over will take place – when WoS has more readers that radio shortbread has viewers.


    • johnrobertson834 October 26, 2017 / 10:01 pm

      I know, duuuhh! Sorted. Yes the crossover point would be interesting.


  4. Dan Huil October 26, 2017 / 5:12 pm

    Good news. The “BBC Misreporting Scotland” posters and stickers could have played a part, other than the non-stop British nationalist propaganda of course. Don’t pay the bbc tax.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. mike cassidy October 26, 2017 / 5:32 pm

    It would be more interesting to see the spread of the decline over the broadcasting day.

    Is the fall in audience directly connected to the daytime speech output as opposed to the evening music output –

    or is it spread evenly?

    I can’t be the only one with zero tolerance for the unionist propaganda while being regularly partial to some of the music programmes.


      • John Sharp October 26, 2017 / 10:21 pm

        I agree with Mike Cassidy’s point. It would be interesting to see a separation for major categories such as news and current affairs, sport, music, etc. Over the past two or three years, I have virtually stopped listening directly to news and comment on Radio Scotland (and on BBC Scotland TV) and I when I do look up clips offline it’s as often to keep tabs on what they are up to as to hope to be (objectively) informed.

        Despite that, since I frequently tune in to football, for example, I would probably show up in their surveys as a continuing customer – no doubt what BBC Scotland might characterise as a satisfied customer.

        So, I guess that a more detailed breakdown of listening patterns is not likely to be forthcoming.


      • johnrobertson834 October 27, 2017 / 4:06 am

        They won’t release seperae figures. wonder why? Wings tried a FOI request but they’re not subject to the act.


  6. Clydebuilt October 26, 2017 / 7:26 pm

    They are doing just fine, best for us if the BBC in Scotland keep on the same track. That empathetic interview of Shona Robson this morning by Hayley Millar, just what we’re after, I’m sure the lost audience are tuning in already.

    Let them stew in their own juice, tell them nothing.


    • johnrobertson834 October 26, 2017 / 10:02 pm

      Hopefully Hayley is at least in part the reason for the decline.


  7. Andy boyd October 26, 2017 / 7:31 pm

    Since the independence campaign started and the snp made great gains ,the country has become polarised.
    Whether you agree or not , it has been obvious to a lot of people where the bbc’s sympathies lie.
    People used to see the BBC as a neutral informative voice but a lot of people now see it as the voice of the establishment , the unionists or the propaganda wing of the conservative party
    Their skewed coverage of issues like independence or the Palestine situation has turned so many people off and as information is easier to come by now and facts are checkable ….then they are going the same way as for example ‘the scotsman’.


  8. Alasdair Macdonald October 26, 2017 / 8:32 pm

    The sad thing is that outside of news and current affairs, the BBC is capable of producing many outstanding programmes. It has been a world leader for years in Natural History programmes. I have been a Radio 3 buff for years. There are programmes on BBC Radio Scotland which are generally worth listening to, but they are often on at awkward hours or are given scant publicity.

    With regard to news and current affairs there are so many programmes now available that we can shop around for news and form our opinions from a variety of sources. Often I will check how RT or Al Jazeera, or Sky or CNN have (or have not) covered a particular story. I can check a range of websites. I can do research on Wikipedia and related sites. As a septuagenarian, I can do that pretty well, but not nearly as well as the millions of well-educated young people with their amazing mobile phones. Is their any reason why so many of the traditional broadcasters continually express concerns about the effect of such protracted It use by young people??? Too true! It is because they are not swallowing the tripe which you are serving up.


  9. rob October 26, 2017 / 9:03 pm

    thank god you changed heading from Viewers to listeners


  10. Len Goodman October 28, 2017 / 8:22 am

    hahahahaha – unlike you, I’ve seen the figure breakdown. BBC News defied the overall trend and has INCREASED its listenership and reach. The radio bods in news could not be more chuffed with their teams
    The real bad news is for purveyors of evening muzak, which is in freefall: bye bye 2nd Radio Scotland music output.
    Oh and Twitter should definitely carry on battering the quiet Nats in the BBC. You’ve turned quite a few since 2014. Yoons are loving it


  11. Moira Cochrane October 28, 2017 / 4:25 pm

    Since the run up to the Independence Referendum Radio Scotland has shown itself to be a puppet whose strings are pulled by the establishment.

    Morning radio is dire. The much missed music from 2pm – 4pm and Janice Forsyth’s brilliant Saturday morning programme are long gone. Changing the time of Get it On, not to mention wall to wall football from 6pm on Fridays and 12 on Saturdays has gotten rid of even more listeners, of whom I am one.


  12. Andrew October 31, 2017 / 7:54 am

    Re. viewers/listeners, I look at my radio a hell of a lot more than I lister to it!


      • Andrew November 1, 2017 / 10:25 am

        It sounds best turned off.


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