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TRN questions Government's decision on Kiwi FM

NEWS RELEASE : 5 May 2006

TRN questions the transparency of Government's decision on Kiwi FM

The Radio Network (TRN) is surprised that the Government has granted a commercial radio network station access to government-owned FM frequencies.

Minister of Broadcasting Steve Maharey announced yesterday that the government will grant Kiwi FM access to three FM frequencies (in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch) for an initial period of one year,
during which time the station would work towards becoming a not-for-profit organisation.

TRN Chief Executive John McElhinney says that this will essentially give three FM frequencies to CanWest, the commercial radio network that currently owns Kiwi FM, by freeing up the Kiwi FM frequencies and creating an opportunity for CanWest to have another commercial radio station in those markets.

"This will effectively provide millions of dollars worth of support to a commercial operator in an uncontestable process," he says.

"There has been no consultation with the industry as to the wisdom or implications of this decision and this lack of transparency is of concern," says Mr McElhinney.

He says the Government's decision is surprising as Kiwi FM has failed to make a significant contribution to the overall lift in NZ music content across all radio stations.

"In reality the New Zealand music content on radio has been increased primarily by mainstream radio stations in a cooperative process managed by the Radio Broadcasters Association."

Mr McElhinney says as a niche radio station, Kiwi FM has only attracted 43,000 listeners over 10 years in age, which is even fewer than Concert FM's listener base of 155,500 people over 15 years of age.

"We believe if the Government considers Kiwi FM should be supported, then it should be non commercial and properly funded. If you're prepared to fully fund a minority interest programme such as Concert FM ? why not Kiwi FM"

TRN intends to put a number of questions about the Government's decision to the Broadcasting Minister.


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