Britons would spend £1.5bn per year to listen to commercial radio stations, a survey by audience measurement firm Kantar Media has found.

The research, designed to coincide with the 40th anniversary of UK commercial radio, found that listeners would pay an average of £42 a year to listen to commercial radio. With more than 35m tuning into commercial radio, according to Rajar, Kantar Media said this would total £1.49bn per year.

The survey found that 78% of commercial radio listeners would miss commercial radio if it did not exist, ahead of BBC radio (76%), national newspapers (68%) and local newspapers (66%). More people (85%) said they would miss TV. According to the report, nearly two-thirds (65%) of respondents said that commercial radio provides them with a unique offering that they can’t find elsewhere.

Commenting on the figures, online radio service RadioCentre interim chief executive Linda Smith warned that commercial radio was under threat unless the government and Ofcom intervened.

“Listeners believe commercial radio delivers really valuable content that is important to them personally – whether it’s in music, entertainment, news or information – and we’re exceeding expectations across the board. Our message to Government and Ofcom is that this value is at risk unless they provide clarity on digital radio and take a fresh look at commercial radio regulation.”

Further statistics showed listeners rated commercial radio highly in providing them with information.

Some 77% said commercial radio keeps them up to date with what’s going on in their local area. This was higher than BBC radio (61%), TV (64%) and national press (34%). The majority of respondents (80%) said that they relied on commercial radio for travel news when making a journey.

Kantar Media surveyed just over 3,000 adults who had listened to a commercial radio station in the previous seven days.