Caution at Merger of 531PI (AM) and Niu FM
The Radio Broadcasters Association has noted the merger of 531PI (AM) and Niu FM with caution.
Executive Director David Innes says that “this is another example of how the Government’s preoccupation with diversity leads to marginally viable broadcast operations”.
Since these licences are granted free of charge, by comparison with the very high prices paid by commercial broadcasters, they are quite properly constrained from acting as commercial broadcasters. Yet we note that Niu FM in the critically important breakfast time zone competes openly with commercial broadcasters. This is despite their cost advantage with a free licence, and their Charter requirement to focus on the needs of the Pacific Island community.
“We note that at Niu FM’s recent AGM, there was widespread concern expressed by the Pacific Island community at the drift of the station toward becoming a “straight up” hip hop station, with virtually no relevance to their community. We firmly believe that both Niu FM and 531PI should be sticking closely to the terms of their Charters which require them for example, to “provide an authoritative, accurate and reliable current source to Pacific people, reinforcing their language , values, beliefs, and culture in New Zealand” and “facilitating, contributing to and promoting community development…as well as the social and economic development of Pacific people in New Zealand” and “providing a window through which the rest of New Zealand can be better informed about the lives of Pacific communities throughout NZ”.
A youth oriented hip hop station seems to us to be quite some distance from compliance with both the spirit and the specifics of their Charter. The Government, who granted the free licence to Niu FM has an inescapable responsibility to ensure that it is used for the purpose intended.