Another spectrum blunder by the Government

The media has been a little quiet on this one, with Radio New Zealand being the only place reporting this – Newstalk ZB mentioned part of the story (and I blogged about it), but left out the important details. Kiwi FM has been allowed another six months on parked youth frequencies.

Let’s have a little bit of context. The parked youth frequencies were set aside in order to allow a non-commercial youth network to be created around the country. It was unknown when this would be created, however they were set aside to allow for this. In 2005, MediaWorks rebranded the failed alternative station, Channel Z, as Kiwi FM. This station was broadcast in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, like Channel Z. Kiwi FM did not use the same frequencies as Channel Z, however. These were instead used to move Top 40 station, The Edge into those markets, with the exception of Christchurch, which did originally play Kiwi FM for one or two years, when it became the frequency for Radio Live. Instead, Kiwi FM was broadcast on the parked youth frequencies in Auckland and Wellington, with Christchurch moving to the parked frequency in 2006. This was allowed because Kiwi FM was just that – a 100% NZ station. You wouldn’t hear a track by an artist outside of New Zealand. Not exactly what the frequencies were meant for, but honourable all the same.

However, last year, Kiwi FM moved to a 60/40 ratio of NZ to international music. This was clearly a breach of what Kiwi FM said it was going to do in order to get the parked youth frequencies.

What does this mean? It means that not only are the parked youth frequencies, that were meant to be used by a non-commercial broadcaster, being used by a commercial interest. Not only are these frequencies being used for a non-youth station. They are also now being used for a station that promotes music that isn’t NZ music. The station is now exactly the same as any other station you can pick up, and the youth frequencies are being wasted on this.

The Government has removed any chance of a youth network being broadcast on this frequency. There are non-commercial stations that are promoting youth around the country and could be using these frequencies to move from low-powered to high-powered frequencies. Instead, we’re getting a commercial station, promoting nothing worthwhile, transmitting on frequencies that were supposed to be the exact opposite of that.

The Government has made a critical error here. And no, I’m not basing that on Peter Dunne’s “because TVNZ 7” argument. I’m basing that on facts like the above. It disturbs me to see these frequencies given out for anything. Labour are just as bad in this – they should never have awarded MediaWorks the parked frequencies, but really, it’s the Government that needs to rethink it’s priorities on this one.


About Daniel Farrell

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Posted on July 3, 2012, in New Zealand Politics and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I should make it clear that I am involved with a non-commercial radio station. While my opinion on Kiwi FM was similar before I got involved with the station, there’s a quick disclosure just so I’m not accused of anything.

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