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Time with radio keeps dropping, says Statscan

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OTTAWA - The amount of time teenagers aged 12 to 17 spent listening to the radio has declined substantially over the past five years, from 11.3 hours per week in the fall of 1999 to 8.5 hours per week in the fall of 2003, says a report released yesterday by Statistics Canada.

Overall, Canadians listened to the radio for an average of 19.5 hours per week, one hour less than in 1999. Since 1983, when Statistics Canada began publishing radio-listening data, teenagers between the ages of 12 and 17 have consistently been the age group with the lowest level of radio listening in Canada. Five years ago, their radio-listening time was just over half the figure for adults.

The same downward trend is observed in teenagers' television-viewing time. Over the past five years, they reduced the amount of time they devoted to each of these electronic media (radio and television) by five hours.

During the week (Monday to Friday), only 10% of teenagers' listening occurred between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., whereas nearly a third occurred between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m., and the same proportion (29%) took place from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. and between 7 p.m. and midnight.

For adults, the lowest amount of radio-listening time was between 7 p.m. and midnight. On weekends, the greatest difference in relation to weekday listening was among teenagers.

Teenagers did most of their radio listening at home, for all periods of the day. Women aged 18 and over did more of their listening at home between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m., and in a car between 7 p.m. and midnight. During the week, men aged 18 and over most often listened to the radio in a car.

Quebec anglophones regain their ranking as the most avid radio listeners. Listening time decreased in all provinces (to varying degrees) except British Columbia, where average listening hours remained stable at what continued to be the lowest listening rate in Canada.

Quebec anglophones also spent the same amount of time listening to the radio as in 2002, but this made them the most avid radio listeners in Canada.

The downward trend in teenagers' radio listening time was observed in all provinces except Prince Edward Island, where teen-listening time remained stable at the highest level for any province (14 hours per week), and Saskatchewan, where the decrease was relatively small.

It was in Quebec that teenagers listened to the radio the least (7.2 hours per week), largely owing to francophones, who listened to the radio 6.8 hours per week compared with 10.2 hours per week for Quebec anglophones.

As for the formats, adult contemporary music continues to dominate (which just might contribute to the reasons teens are tuning out), while public radio retains third place.

Overall, adult contemporary music continued to dominate the market (24.2%), followed by gold/oldies/rock (18.6%). Public radio held it ranking at third among Canadians' radio listening choices for a second consecutive year, but it was closely followed by talk radio. This is partly because the news, public affairs and current events both at home (e.g., SARS) and abroad (e.g., the war in Iraq) are better suited to debate on talk radio stations.

Teenagers' musical preferences also changed over the past five years. In 2003, teens devoted roughly equal proportions of their listening time to adult contemporary music (22.2%), gold/oldies/rock (21.5%) and contemporary music (20.0%). In 1999, they strongly preferred contemporary music (42% of their listening time).

At the provincial level, adult contemporary music dominated in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario, while country music was the first choice of Saskatchewan and Alberta residents.

The results in this release are based on a survey of 86,639 Canadians aged 12 and older. The data on radio listening covers seven specific days and was collected using a log-type questionnaire over an eight-week period from September 1 to October 26, 2002. While the return rate, at 42.8%, is modest by Statistics Canada standards, it is in line with Canadian and international broadcasting industry practice for audience measurement.

The radio project of the Culture Statistics Program is a joint endeavor of the CRTC, the Department of Canadian Heritage, and Statistics Canada. The Statistics Canada radio listening data bank integrates files from a variety of sources. The basic listening data are acquired from the BBM Bureau of Measurement and include the demographic characteristics of survey respondents. The information on specific radio station formats is provided by the CRTC.

For more on this or any other Statcan study, go to www.statcan.ca.

The overall hours of listening time has declined over the years, but,

teen listening time is in a scary decline. Both charts from the Statistics Canada web site.

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