Thursday, February 23, 2012

Moving The Goal Posts

Radio giant MediaWorks still has its hand out for $300K of annual government funding - despite Kiwi FM now playing international artists in its supposedly 100% NZ format.
Kiwi FM styles itself as non-profit, but is part of the commercial, private equity-owned MediaWorks group.The previous government gave the station free FM frequencies (102.2 Akld., 102.1 Wgtn., 102.5 Canterbury), providing it used them to promote local music. Last Monday Kiwi FM switched to 60% local/40% international.
Mediaworks sees no problem with the government prop-up, saying the annual $300K from NZ On Air is for some shows on the station - these shows "are unaffected by the change and will continue to play 100% NZ music and remain in the schedule, so this funding isn't affected." Hmmm, sounds like semantics...
is it worth it?
With MediaWorks group programme director Andrew Szusterman's assessment that Kiwi FM’s audience (of around 20,000) is not sustainable, the format's entire viability must be questioned.
Auckland University of Technology radio lecturer Matt Mollgaard reckons this new change is not fulfilling Kiwi FM's objectives and the frequencies should be put up for tender: "Those frequencies are worth millions. The last in one in Auckland sold for around $6.5 million, for a 20-year lease."
Questions were raised last year when Mediaworks and Prime Minister John Key got palsy-walsy over the deferring of $43 million in radio licensing fees for MediaWorks.
MediaWorks' radio division operates in 23 markets, with nationwide brands MORE FM, RadioLIVE, The Sound (ex-Solid Gold), The Edge, The Breeze, The Rock, LiveSPORT and Kiwi FM, as well as regional stations Mai FM (in Auckland, Northland and Rotorua), Times FM (Orewa), George FM, Radio Dunedin and Coromandel FM. Such a monster broadcasting company does not need - and should be embarrassed to be taking - subsidies from NZ On Air. And frankly, if Kiwi FM can only muster 20K listeners across the entire country, it's not worth running. If a station can't drum up more than 20K in one CITY, it's not worth running! Szusterman: "It's all well and good having a 100% NZ radio station but if people aren't listening to it in droves, what's the point?" Exactly!
Sell the frequencies. Return the money to the public coffers.

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