Dunedin’s Radio 1

Radio 1, the student radio station at the University of Otago, is in the process of being sold by the Otago University Student Association. This was after Deloitte suggested the amount OUSA received from Radio 1 does not measure equal with the amount they pay for the station, therefore it should be sold. There are a number of people blaming this on VSM.

As someone who’s involved with student radio, I feel quite strongly about this. I do feel that student radio is really important. It opens doors for students that would not normally be there. I would not have the chance to spend five minutes talking with the Prime Minister if I wasn’t on Contact FM. In fact, Radio 1 started the career of TV3’s Samantha Hayes. Employers don’t like employing people who don’t have experience. For people wanting to get into a vast range of areas, from journalism to sound engineering, this can be the experience they need.

Though I would like to point out, I do not blame VSM. I blame the poor management of the student associations. Look at the situation with Contact FM. When WSU went voluntary in 2000, the association kept trying to do the same things it was doing before with less money coming in. The association was going bankrupt. In a panicked reaction, they sold off most (or possibly all, I’m not sure) of the property WSU owned, as well as the frequency and equipment of Contact FM. This has caused huge legal problems that I’m not going to go into, that hopefully will come to an end in the next few months.

I do think that VSM is a hugely important thing for students of New Zealand. However, students need to make sure that they vote in a Board of Directors this year who have the ability to make good decisions to ensure the future of their student association. It will make it difficult for a few years for these student associations, however given proper management over this time, it will result in a better student association with happier students. But selling off student media assets is a very bad idea.

I would also like to point out, my view here does not necessarily mirror the official stance of Contact FM. You’ll have to ask them about that. Though I’m pretty sure you can tell that there’s something in here they wouldn’t agree with, or else I wouldn’t have put this statement 🙂


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Posted on July 4, 2011, in New Zealand Politics and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 19 Comments.

  1. Your post has blatantly incorrect information in the first sentence. I suggest in the future you research before you write a blog post. FYI, OUSA is not in the process of selling Radio One. The Executive is in a consultation process over a range of recommendations from Deloitte and has yet to make any decision to sell Radio One.

    • So you’re going to read the first line and see something that is sort of incorrect (I say sort of because it is questionable whether it is or not – I will get to that though) and not read the rest though? That’s not exactly good practice…

      OUSA is currently in the process of deciding whether or not to seel Radio One. However, it has been made relatively clear that most members of OUSA’s Executive has made their decision. In fact, my understanding is (and this is from a source that I will not name) that there is one or two members of OUSA’s Executive that have not made a decision, and that if they were to vote on it today, Radio One would be sold. If you disagree or don’t like that, I apologise, but that is the information that I have researched. Not that I generally do research for this blog. This blog is an opinion piece, not a scholarly journal.

    • Also, I would suggest it is good practice to declare that you are a member of the OUSA Executive when commenting on something like this, so that people are aware that you have a vested interest in the situation.

  2. My apologies, I should have declared that. Because I am an Exec member I get annoyed at incorrect information in the public realm. My vested interest lies in making sure that information is correct about OUSA so that when people chose to comment they do so in an informed way, I did in fact read your entire blog before commenting.

    The sentence really boils down to semantics and how you use to interpret the process of consultation and I understand why you have done so that way. But, from a personal opinion, I felt the need to clarify because I saw it as misinformation.

    I don’t know who you’ve spoken to about the Exec but our conversations surrounding Radio One have been in confidential Exec meetings so I cannot comment on that. But for what it’s worth I can personally say I have not made any decisions and I look forward to submissions proposing realistic ways for Radio One to decrease its subsidy from OUSA and to make it more relevant to OUSA members.

    • I do completely understand your reason for commenting as such, and I do appreciate you doing so. I like it when this blog gets several sides of the story out. While this blog was originally a venue for me to channel some thoughts on politics, I feel it is becoming more than that, particularly considering I’m getting some people I very seldom agree with to guest blog here. It shall be interesting!

      But returning to relevant matters, obviously, for the same reason as you can’t say what has been discussed in your meetings, I cannot give any more details of who I received my information from.

      All I can say is I hope OUSA, and therefore you as an Exec member, make the right decision on this and keep Radio One alive!

  3. Jesus they’ll leak info to anybody these days!

    You know, if the Exec decided to “leak” their info via press releases, notices, on social media etc, I wouldn’t have an issue with the transparency!

  4. If Deloitte are suggesting that the value received from Radio One is not equal to the cost, then, rather than selling the station, it should be developed to a point where it does. Unfortunately it is a rather typical stance in New Zealand to ‘throw the baby out with the bath water’ when it comes to any assets =/

    Though, given that we will barely have a domestically based media in years to come, what’s the point in having entities which allow students to develop experience when they simply won’t be able to get jobs? Eg. “Fairfax Media is reportedly laying off 45 workers in New Zealand and will be outsourcing the jobs to India.” http://tvnz.co.nz/business-news/fairfax-outsource-kiwi-jobs-india-union-4256353

  5. Not sure why you don’t blame VSM – it is the prime financial driver behind this proposed sale. Yes perhaps it should have been run with a tighter bottom line and be less exposed to panic selling, yes perhaps there are ways it could/should have changed what it provided for it’s better value for the $5 each student subsidises it by, yes promotions could always be better, yes yada yada yada.

    But none of those are the prime reason it’s being put up for sale. VSM is.

    And your suggestion that VSM “will make it difficult for a few years for these student associations” but result in better management after a few years is a laughably rose-tinted view of VSM at best. For some bigger associations with assets to survive off that may be the case, but for smaller ones, or ones that have focused using their members levies solely on providing services (ie not built up assets), they will be destroyed. Literally. Just like when VSM was tried in Australia.

    • Any organisation that relies on income that can be taken away so easily is being managed poorly. Just saying. The fact of the matter is if a student association is being managed properly, VSM will not lead to the selling of assets. In fact, selling off assets is probably the last thing student associations want to be doing right now.

  6. Daniel, I agree that selling strategic assets is the last thing students’ association want to be doing. However, in the real world these assets cost money to run and are a liability in terms of cashflow and many will have to be lost under VSM.

    Students’ associations around the country will be facing the same question of what they can and can’t afford to keep under VSM. That is the reality of VSM in the real world.

    Just look at how associations were gutted of their assets when VSM was tried in Australia. VSM is the real enemy here, not a radio station that currently needs a $5 per student subsidy to run.

    And btw even if Radio 1 has been badly managed, VSM is no panacea for that. How is having no radio station better than having one that costs $5 a year to run with scope to be cost neutral?

    Sure if students don’t want a $5 a year station or what to make it more cost neutral they should of course have that choice (as they indeed do), but the decision to dump it shouldn’t be forced on students by the government. And that’s exactly what VSM will do, and not just Radio 1.

    Looking at Australia many very well run student owned assets (gyms, bars, bus services, etc) were given away to institutions by associations that could no longer afford to run them. Now the institutions run them, charge students more (still compulsorily in many cases btw), and give less service. That’s not better management, that’s just plain stupid.

    • VSM doesn’t cause better management. What it does mean is that the student associations that aren’t being managed properly will often be forced to close, or will get directors and management that don’t decide it’s a good idea to commit fraud.

      With the right marketing strategy, a student radio station can be popular, and therefore make money through advertising revenue. Look at bFM in Auckland. AUSA is voluntary. bFM wasn’t sold. AUSA is still around, providing services to students. When there’s an example of VSM not destroying a student association within your country, it’s probably a bad idea to suggest that VSM will destroy student associations….

  7. Daniel, you should probably look into how the AUSA is run before using it as an example. The AUSA /was/ destroyed when it was made voluntary. It is simply because the university itself took over funding most of the services that the AUSA previously had (through compulsory student levies). The problem with the argument is that the university has simply had to hike other fees and levies to cover the disparity, and as such students are STILL being FORCED to pay. The payments have simply been swapped from being paid directly to the AUSA, to being paid indirectly to the AUSA through the university.

    Also, if you think that UoW has no ‘campus life’, you should try going to Auckland =P

    • I think you’ll find that the levies are at about the same levels as most other universities… To my knowledge, they are around the same level as Vic and UC (at least before the earthquake, I don’t know what that has done to the levies – I would assume they’ve gone up a bit).

  8. Yes, the student union levies are about the same; however the services are still being provided (as the board of the university has deemed them essential to part of university life) and thus the university charges a ‘Student Services Fee’ upon enrolment. So the students still pay no matter what.

    The only difference is that those who choose not to be a member of the union don’t get to have their say on how the money is spent. This means the students are actually worse off apart from having ‘their freedom’; this ‘freedom’ costs $4.84 per point.



    • Not at all what I am saying. In fact, Auckland’s student union levies have gone from whatever the were to zero. But the student services fee has not changed since going voluntary. It was at this level before, so it is obviously wrong to say that this is because of VSM.

      And shut up. Freedom costs a buck-o-five. Team America told me.

  1. Pingback: The Radio 1 saga - Part Two | mydeology | mydeology

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  3. Pingback: The Radio One Saga Part III « Politicalisation

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