Friday, May 21, 2010

New Zealand Budget 2010 Radio Funding Review : Public Radio Funding 'Holds the Line' whilst Commercial Radio Adjusts to Recession

Media Release
Radio Heritage Foundation

New Zealand Budget 2010 Radio Funding Review

Public Radio Funding 'Holds the Line' whilst Commercial Radio Adjusts to Recession

Publicly funded radio broadcasters in New Zealand have essentially
had their funding frozen in the latest government budget for
2010/2011 announced in Wellington yesterday.

New Zealand On Air, the main funding authority has seen its budget
remain the same. It's total budget is NZ$126.9m [US$84.4m] and
includes TV, radio, archiving and new media responsibilities.

It funds Radio New Zealand, community radio stations, the National
Pacific Radio Trust [NPRT] and a small amount of contestable hours
for commercial radio.

Radio New Zealand is again funded to produce 17,520 hours of radio
programs in 2010/2011, which is the same as two x 24 hour networks
across the year. It is likely to continue to operate its RNZ
National and RNZ Concert services and maintain its AM and FM coverage
with this funding.

Fourteen existing community access radio stations and the NPRT will
be bulk funded, but like Radio NZ, they'll also have to meet
increases in operating costs [such as the increase in the Goods &
Services Tax [GST] rate to 15% from October 1, salaries, rentals,
energy] from within existing allocations.

This will put pressure on creativity to find new income sources, such
as finding more sponsorship partners, increasing the paid membership
base for the access stations, or increasing charges to program makers
and holding back on capital expenditure such as new facilities.

NPRT operates the Niu FM Network, Niu FM 103.8 [Auckland] and 531pi
[Auckland] and its budget is frozen at NZ$3m [[US$2m] with each
station funded for 24 hour operation and an increase in the number of
hours broadcasting in at least 9 Pacific languages.

In addition, funding for the nationwide network of Iwi [Maori
language] radio stations has been frozen at NZ$11.34m [US$7.54m] to
provide for 60,000 hours of Maori language and cultural radio
programs. There are currently 21 iwi radio stations.

Meanwhile, New Zealand's international shortwave broadcaster to the
Pacific, Radio NZ International [RNZI] sees its funding also frozen
at NZ$1.9m [US$1.26m] for continued delivery of 16 hours of quality
reception level of its programs to a minimum of 11 Pacific nations.

According to the Radio Heritage Foundation, the funding levels will
challenge all publicly funded broadcasters. However, no public
broadcasters are expected to reduce or remove existing services
although there may be more music programs and less spoken word
documentaries and current affairs programs.

The two major commercial radio networks in New Zealand [Radioworks
and The Radio Network] have already faced declines in advertising
revenue, and rationalized some local services with increased
networking hours and closure of marginal stations to cope with the
ongoing recession.

Another network operator [Rhema Broadcasting Group] relies heavily on
membership dues and donations and has seen its donation income drop
considerably in the past year.

New Zealand private and commercial broadcasters are also faced with
20 year licence renewals scheduled in 2011, over 250 FM frequency
changes currently underway, and increased competition from new local
commercial stations and online streaming of radio stations from

Digital broadcasting has been tested but is unlikely to be introduced
within the near future.

Like the publicly funded broadcasters, private commercial radio in
New Zealand also faces increased costs from the GST increase,
pressure on salaries and operating costs and has the added challenge
of reduced advertising expenditure.

The Radio Heritage Foundation is a registered non-profit organization
connecting popular culture, nostalgia and radio heritage across the
Pacific. Its global website offers free
community access to Pacific Radio Guides and other valuable
resources. Annual supporter packages start at US$10 and online
advertising rates are now available.

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