The Ministry for Culture and Heritage has allocated eight new FM radio licences for non-commercial community broadcasting.
Four are in the North Island (Hawkes Bay, Bay of Plenty, Taranaki and Wellington) and four in the South Island (Nelson, Christchurch, Dunedin and Invercargill).
The Ministry’s Manager of Broadcasting Agencies, Rick Julian, said the allocation of the licences provides opportunities for a wider range of local content and for more people to get involved in radio.
“The community focus will be maintained by ensuring the operator and studio are within the coverage area and the programmes broadcast are to local audiences,” he said.
The initiative meets the government’s commitment to strengthening regional and community broadcasting. It recognises community radio has an important and distinctly different role from that of national broadcasters.
“Priority was given to community access radio services where a service did not already exist; improving coverage for existing community access stations; enabling existing non-commercial services to exchange AM for FM frequencies; and creating new services for communities of interest where there was an unmet need.
“The successful applicants all demonstrated they had the financial resources and technical expertise to run a radio station and were not duplicating a service or programming already operating in the area,” said Rick Julian.
The four new broadcasters – in North Canterbury, the Hutt Valley, Taranaki and Whakatane – provide community radio to areas which are not currently served by a community access station. All fit well into the government’s Regional and Community Broadcasting Policy.
Local non-commercial licences are allocated free-of-charge through the Ministry for Culture and Heritage but some technical and engineering costs still have to be met by broadcasters.
Licence-holders must comply with a set of requirements and responsibilities.
These include restricting on-air advertising to no more than six minutes per clock hour, and deriving no more than 50 percent of income from direct advertising.
The release of new local non-commercial radio frequencies is designed to:
- enhance regional and community broadcasting as outlined in the government’s Broadcasting Programme of Action; and
- provide opportunities for new FM radio broadcasters to fill an unmet community need.
Non-commercial radio frequencies were made available in the following areas: Bay of Plenty, Rotorua, Gisborne, Napier/Hastings, Taranaki, Wanganui, Wairarapa, Wellington, Nelson, Christchurch, Timaru, Dunedin, Queenstown and Invercargill.
The successful applicants are:
Southland: community access station, Radio Southland, will migrate from a commercial to a non-commercial frequency.
Dunedin: community access station, Hills AM, will acquire an FM frequency while also retaining its AM frequency.
Christchurch: newcomer, North Canterbury Radio Trust, offers programming which best meets the criteria with the strong support from businesses, sponsors and broadcasters.
Nelson: community access station, Fresh FM, will migrate from an iwi frequency to a non-commercial frequency.
Wellington: newcomer, Hutt Radio Trust, offers community access type radio to a community of 140,000 people in the wider Hutt Valley and Porirua.
Hawkes Bay: community access station, Radio Kidnappers, will acquire an FM frequency while also retaining its AM frequency.
Taranaki: newcomer, Taranaki Community Events Trust, shows a positive level of community support and a varied base of prospective broadcasters.
Bay of Plenty: newcomer, bsideFM in Whakatane, currently operates on an LPFM licence, which offers limited coverage. The full-power licence will allow them to reach and give access to all communities in the region.
Frequencies which received applications but which, at this stage, no allocation has been made are in Gisborne, Rotorua and Queenstown.
Other available frequencies for which there were no applicants are in Wairarapa, Wanganui, Taupo and Timaru.