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Local Radio the Winner from Latest Spectrum Plans

5 September 2005

For immediate use


Regional Local Radio the Winner from Latest Spectrum Plans


“Regional local radio is getting the recognition it deserves in spectrum plans announced last week,” says the Chairperson of the company that owns and operates Kapiti’s Beach FM 93.5, Ron Wilkinson.

The Minister of Communications, Hon. David Cunliffe, released a discussion paper last week, aimed at providing additional FM frequencies for at least five new radio stations in most areas of New Zealand.

The Minister said that the move “has great potential to benefit community radio stations who are struggling to find available spectrum.”

The plan is for two of each set of frequencies to be for “local broadcasting” only, with allocation by an auction process limited to parties not holding licences in the specific areas and with some restrictions on programming originating out of the area.

Mr Wilkinson is endorsing the general thrust of the policy, saying that national networks of stations are pushing out aspirant local broadcasters. “In recent months, we have seen local
operators being bought out by the networks to provide transmitters for programming dictated nationally.”

He said that the Minister and his department are to be congratulated on acknowledging the need and finding a solution.

Beach FM 93.5 serving Kapiti and Horowhenua has been attempting to obtain its own frequency for the last eight years. For seven years it has leased a frequency from another rights owner. “Fortunately”, Mr Wilkinson said, “we have a very good relationship with our frequency landlord, but we are always conscious that our future is in the hands of another party.”

Mr Wilkinson says that in the two frequency auctions for the Kapiti-Horowhenua region in the last eight years, networks have purchased all of them at the expense of local operators.

“There’s a role for networks in this country, but regional local radio deserves room to enable it to make a contribution that is different to the national brands,” he said.

Beach FM 93.5 focuses on local news and information seven days a week as well as playing music that appeals to people over the age of 35 years – 69% of the Kapiti and Horowhenua population. Covering three electorates for the General Elections, it is broadcasting individual interviews with the 24 candidates in those, as well as covering visits by party leaders and presenting general election news. Currently, it is also broadcasting live full commentaries on all home and away games played by the Horowhenua-Kapiti NPC third division team.

ENDS

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