Last July , Broadcasting Minister Steve Maharey announced it would grant music station Kiwi FM access to new FM frequencies set aside for new public broadcasting services.

"We support the concept of a station that plays 100 per cent Kiwi music, and we're keen that it has the opportunity to develop and expand the range of Kiwi music it plays," Maharey said.

The station was granted the use of three FM frequencies for an initial period of one year, from July 2006, during which time it would supposedly work towards becoming "a not-for-profit organisation".

Those frequencies had been set aside for a public youth radio network.

This really got up the nose of New Zealand's most successful songwriter Neil Finn.

Finn, who has long been a campaigner for a non-commercial youth radio network, accused the government of cosying up to 'commercial interests'.

In a letter to The New Zealand Herald, the former member of Crowded House and Split Enz asked why Kiwi was being propped up "when it has proved to be a failed concept with the listening audience".

At that time Kiwi FM was attracting just 0.7 percent of the Auckland radio audience.

Finn then went on to criticise CanWest chief executive Brent Impey, a high profile opponent of government-funded radio

"He was the arch enemy of a public youth radio network and yet he has now asked for, and received, Government assistance for Kiwi FM," Finn wrote.

At the launch of Kiwi FM, Impey said the station demonstrated there was no need for a public youth network because commercial radio was "doing the job" - apparently Impey believes that youth radio is a kind of giant jukebox, playing hour after hour of pop music.

But as Finn has often said, a youth radio network is about more than music, that it's about giving young people access to important information untainted by commercial interests.

Well, the new radio ratings were released today and provide irrefutable evidence that Kiwi FM is a failed concept. New Zealand youth aren't interested in it - as Neil Finn predicted.

In Auckland Kiwi's ratings slipped from 0.7 percent to an abysmal 0.2 percent. In Wellington Kiwi attracted just 0.3 percent of the listening audience and in Christchurch Kiwi was at 0.2 percent.

In nationwide wide terms Kiwi FM is only listened to by an abysmal 0.1 percent of the total radio audience.

'All Kiwi FM has done is provide Karyn Hay (general manager) and hubby with some nice salaries,' is how one radio insider cynically put it to me today. 'Maharey backed a loser from the very beginning. He played into the hands of commercial radio because it wants to prevent the establishment of a youth radio network because it would lose a share of its youth audience -possibly a big share.Commercial radio isn't interested in serving the needs of New Zealand's young people - all its interested in is audience share and advertising revenue.'

Defending his decision to give the frequencies to Kiwi FM Steve Maharey said; "It's a one year trial to see if people like Karyn Hay can make a go of it."

He also said once the year was up, Kiwi FM would have to give up the frequencies which would go back to being 'parked' for youth radio.

It remains to be seen if this does, in fact, happen.


  1. The trial period is well over already. They retain the free frequencies without any public comment from the media, MediaWorks or Maharey.

  2. Gidday there Steven, I run an online Radio Station playing 100% Alternative Kiwi Music.I do it for 'the love' & 40% of my audience is domiciled overseas. Within 10 years Internet radio will become the norm in cars & households around the globe & existing commercial music stations will crumble as low cost specialist shows like mine eat into their market (full article I did is topic is on my blog page)Perhaps I should ask for a hand-out from Maharey as I have NZ in my name and play 100% local content? Cheers, Paul.


Comments are moderated.