The Network Chart Show
|Running time||5pm to 7pm, later 4pm to 7pm (from 21 October 1990)|
|Country||United Kingdom (London)|
|Home station||Capital FM|
|Air dates||30 September 1984 to 25 July 1993 (Rebranded)|
The main presenter was David Jensen (known then as "Kid Jensen"), however Pat Sharp would often provide holiday cover in its later years. In its earlier years Timmy Mallett and Alan Freeman filled in for Jensen. The show originally featured the Network Top 30 and ran from 5pm until 7pm in direct competition to BBC Radio One's Top 40 chart show and was broadcast from Capital Radio's studios on Euston Road in London.
It networked, hence the name, in the UK on a number of ILRs using the transmission circuits of Independent Radio News, which meant it was originally in mono on most radio stations. Later, the programme was upgraded to be broadcast in stereo.
The programme used to start bang on at 5pm which at the time was quite a radical step for the 5pm and 6pm news to be dropped. Each local station would play their own 10 second ident before linking up with the national feed. The final song faded out shortly before the 7pm news bulletin, each radio station would opt-out at various times depending on the length of their news-in jingle. Eventually the programme was extended on 21 October 1990 starting an hour earlier at 4:03pm, following the news bulletin, with the chart expanded to a Top 40; not all of the stations took the extra hour to begin with.
Programme features included "Network Chart Mastermixes" - where two songs adjacent to each other in the chart were professionally mixed together.
David Jensen would record trailers to run on radio stations during the week which famously started with the words "Hi Chart Fans!!".
In later years the programme was sponsored by coffee company Nescafe.
The Network Chart
The chart was owned by Association of Independent Radio Contractors (AIRC) – the trade body for Independent Local Radio stations. The chart was distributed by Satellite Media Services, produced by Capital Radio and compiled by the Media Research Information Bureau (MRIB). The chart differed from the entirely sales-based "official" Gallup chart used by the BBC as it included airplay statistics when compiling the chart. In 1987, sales data for a Thursday-to-Wednesday week was logged manually in diaries by 300 record shops and posted to MRIB. In 1991, data was being collected from around 300 independent record shops who were provided with a checklist of currently released singles. Sales were "checked off against ticks on the retailers' masterbags" and these figures would be collected by telephone on Thursdays. Airplay statistics were factored in by all Independent Local Radio stations providing which playlist (A, B, or C) the current releases were on. More weight was given to the larger stations at the time, such as Capital (17 percent), BRMB, Clyde, GWR, Metro, and Piccadilly. If a record was on every Independent Local Radio station's A list the sales were boosted by 40 percent.
For its first three years, the Network Chart was more up-to-date than the BBC chart broadcast simultaneously (which had been around since the previous Tuesday), with many singles entering, and reaching their peak on, Sunday's new Network Chart before they did so on the official chart announced two days later.
From 4 October 1987 the official chart was brand new on a Sunday afternoon and was more up-to-date, with the official chart using a Monday-to-Saturday sales week compared to the Network Chart's Thursday-to-Wednesday one. Even when the Network Chart was more up-to-date, though, the Gallup chart was always considered the "official" Top 40, and indeed was promoted as such by the BBC.
In compiling the chart MRIB employed a sliding scale, meaning that for the lower reaches of the Top 40, airplay counted almost as much as sales. This often meant that the 40-to-20 positions could be very different between the Network and BBC charts. The weight given to airplay diminished the higher one went in the chart, and the Top 10 was meant to be entirely sales-based, although the Network Chart did not register sales from Saturday, the single most important record-buying day, until a week later. It was not unusual for the MRIB and Gallup charts to have different songs at Number One.
Because the chart did not include sales from the likes of Woolworths & WH Smith, some songs with more specialised appeal (including many by The Smiths) peaked higher than on the official chart, whereas some songs with more middle-of-the-road appeal (such as Su Pollard's "Starting Together") might sometimes peak lower. This had also been the case with the Record Business magazine chart used by ILR in the late 1970s and early 1980s, which also did not include data from the more family-friendly shops. As with the Record Business chart, regional charts were also produced by MRIB for individual ILR stations.
A TV version launched in 1987 called The Roxy - presented by David Jensen and Kevin Sharkey using the chart data from The Network Chart. The show itself tried and failed to compete with the BBC who had the long established Top of the Pops. It ran for just over a year and was produced by Tyne Tees Television, but was often beaten in the ratings by rival programmes on other channels such as EastEnders. The TV show was axed after industrial disputes saw the end of live performances.
On 16 March 1989, Fantail Publishing released a tie-in book called, The Network Chart Book Of Hits, which was a review of the previous year, 1988 in music. It featured a selection of the singles, albums and music videos charts, as well as interviews with some of the artists who had big hits that year. The book was introduced by David Jensen and the author was Mike Hrano.
Teen magazine Number One used The Network Chart singles and albums charts from January 1985, right up until summer 1990, when it was sold by its publishers, IPC Media to BBC Magazines. From then on it featured the official national singles and albums charts until the magazine's demise in early 1992. Also, the national Sunday newspaper, The News of the World, used to feature The Network Chart Top 20 singles chart in their music section in the late 1980s and early 1990s, whereas The Sunday People featured the MRIB top 10 right up to MRIB's Singles/Album Chart demise in April 2008. Although Independent Radio stopped using it in August 1993.
From 1 August 1993, Neil Fox took over the rebranded Pepsi Network Chart which later became the Pepsi Chart and then hit40uk. On 15 June 2009, hit40uk became The Big Top 40 Show. All these shows mostly used the Official Top 10, except The Big Top 40 which uses the iTunes live top 10, at the end of the show, and kicks off with the full week's top 10 on iTunes. The 40-11 on all of them is a 50/50 Sales/Airplay chart.