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Further allocations of FM broadcasting frequencies

· Further allocations of FM broadcasting frequencies
·
· The government has decided to allocate some additional FM broadcasting frequencies and has made decisions about the management of radio spectrum used for low power FM broadcasting, Communications Minister Paul Swain and Broadcasting Minister Steve Maharey announced today.
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· Four upper FM band frequencies will be allocated to meet immediate pressures on the commercial and non-commercial broadcasting sectors. Two commercial licences will be auctioned in Auckland where strong commercial demand exists and a further two non-commercial licences will be allocated to Auckland and Kapiti Coast Access Radio. All temporary commercial broadcasting licences issued in recent years will also be auctioned as long-term licences. The auction of new and temporary upper FM band licences will be conducted by the Ministry of Economic Development and is expected to be held later this year.
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· Paul Swain said remaining upper FM radio spectrum would be retained for future allocation.
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· “The decisions taken by the government respond to the most pressing demands by commercial and non-commercial broadcasters. By holding on to remaining upper FM frequencies the government has the ability to respond flexibly to broadcasters’ demands once the precise nature and extent of the use by the four priority services is known (the Pacific radio network, National Radio FM frequencies, Concert FM and potential use by a national Maori radio network).
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· “Postponing the remaining upper FM frequency allocation also enables innovative new ways of licensing the band to be explored, such as closer channel spacing,” Paul Swain said.
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· Steve Maharey said the decision would enable some new broadcasters to start up, adding further listening choices for New Zealanders.
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· “Enabling broadcasting to commence on new high power FM frequencies will ease the pressure from commercial broadcasters to access the Auckland radio market and expand the access radio network.
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· . . / 2 “Niu FM, the Pacific radio network, has recently commenced broadcasting in the upper FM band and I recently announced funding to enable National Radio to migrate to this band as well. The government has also previously set aside frequencies in this band for Concert FM and potential use by a national Maori radio network,” Steve Maharey said.
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· Low power FM broadcasting
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· The government has also agreed that the low power FM band, which is used for local FM broadcasting, will continue to be managed through a general user radio licence. A new general user radio licence framed to promote local broadcasting is being prepared by the Ministry of Economic Development and is expected to come into force on 1 July 2003.
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· Paul Swain said the decision to continue to manage lower FM spectrum through general user radio licences will lower compliance costs for community broadcasters.
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· “Local broadcasters will be able to commence operations without the need to obtain an individual licence. The general licence will be designed to ensure that the band is essentially self-regulating, minimising administrative cost to government and ultimately consumers,” Paul Swain said.
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· Steve Maharey said local broadcasting using low power FM spectrum also provides a valuable supplement to high power broadcasting services, providing for minority interests and increased choice.
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· Contact: Michael Gibbs [Steve Maharey’s office], (04) 471 9154 or (021) 270 9115, e-mail: michael.gibbs@parliament.govt.nz, www.beehive.govt.nz/maharey.
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· Technical notes for editors: Almost all current FM broadcasting services operate in the lower FM band, between 89 and 100 MHz. All FM radio receivers suitable for the New Zealand market are also capable of receiving services in the upper FM band (100-106.63 MHz). Until relatively recently, the upper FM band was used for non-broadcasting services. These services have been moved to other bands, freeing up the upper FM band for broadcasting.
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· Guard bands are required at 88.0-88.8 MHz and 106.63-108 MHz (the low power FM bands) to ensure that high power FM broadcasting does not interfere with radiocommunications above and below the FM broadcasting band. The low power FM bands can, however, be used for broadcasting, subject to precautions taken to limit transmission powers.

A general user radio licence allows any person to use the LPFM bands for low power broadcasting without the need to obtain an individual licence. However the low power FM broadcasters are not guaranteed exclusivity of use or protection from interference, and the necessary power restriction causes them to have a much lower audience reach than a normal high power service.

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