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New spectrum for FM radio

Hon David Cunliffe
Minister for Communications and Information Technology

Hon Trevor Mallard
Minister of Broadcasting

21 April 2008 Media Statement

New spectrum for FM radio

Communications and Information Technology Minister David Cunliffe and Broadcasting Minister Trevor Mallard have today announced the release of more than seventy FM radio licences for commercial and non-commercial use.

“There is always a demand for new radio frequencies, from both community and commercial interests,” said Mr Cunliffe. “As outlined in our Broadcasting Programme of Action, the government is committed to strengthening regional and community broadcasting, so the focus of this new allocation is on making licences available for locally owned and operated radio stations.”

In accordance with 2006 Cabinet decisions, licences have been identified and are being allocated in the following order of priority for each major coverage area (to the extent that suitable licences are available in that area):

* one licence for local commercial use;

* one licence for non-commercial allocation;

* a second licence for local commercial use;

* one licence reserved for use after 2011; and

* any other licences for unrestricted commercial use, after allowing for the 2011 licence renewal offers and the above priorities.

As a result, thirty-one local commercial FM licences will be offered for sale as a part of Radio Spectrum Auction 10, with conditions that bidders reside within the coverage area and that the licensee targets the needs and expectations of its local audience.

“The release of this spectrum to local communities is both a promise and a challenge. The government’s terms and conditions will ensure that the licences remain in local control and have a focus on local and community content, but users of those licences will also have to develop a format that attracts and retains a long term audience,” said Mr Cunliffe.

Trevor Mallard said a further sixteen licences will be allocated by the Ministry for Culture and Heritage on a non-commercial basis to meet the objectives in the Government’s Regional and Community Broadcasting Policy Framework.

“Through this allocation, the Labour-led government continues its commitment to support community and regional broadcasting,” he said. “The government reviewed the policies and funding for access radio and regional television in 2006, so I am pleased to announce the allocation of these licences which further increase the opportunities for community involvement in broadcasting."

There are a number of other licences that are being offered on an unrestricted commercial and fully contestable basis. These are typically temporary licences (AM, FM, and UHF TV) that are being used to extend and “infill” the coverage of existing commercial services.



Radio Spectrum Auction 10:

Registrations are now being taken for Radio Spectrum Auction 10 via the Ministry of Economic Development’s radio spectrum website at

Auction 10 for local commercial and standard commercial licences will use an open outcry format, with the option of remote telephone bidding. It is scheduled for the third week of May in Wellington.

When available, the final details of the auction, lots and conditions will be published on the Auction 10 webpage and emailed to registered bidders.

Non-commercial licences:

The licences to be allocated by the Ministry for Culture and Heritage will carry strict requirements and responsibilities. Priority will be given to community access radio, existing community services that migrate from AM to FM frequencies, and new services for particular communities of interest, including network services.

Applicants must show the extent to which they will fulfil a priority community need, which does not duplicate existing services. They must also show how they will fund the radio station, with restrictions of no more than 50% of their income from direct advertising.

Information on this allocation is available from the Ministry for Culture and Heritage website at


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