Kiwi FM continues to perform miserably in the ratings, raising again questions about why this failed station continues to occupy the three valuable FM frequencies originally reserved for a non commercial youth radio network (YRN).

Unfortunately no one is answering those questions. Kiwi FM continues to stagnate in a radio backwater, broadcasting to a handful of people and wasting everyone's time.

The former Labour Minister of Broadcasting Steve Maharey disgracefully gifted the three FM frequencies to Mediaworks, New Zealand's largest broadcasting operation.

The latest radio ratings (released on October 8) show that the station that plays only New Zealand 'alternative' music continues to attract a tiny audience. In the all important Auckland market the station attracted just 0.3 percent of the total radio audience. A mere 15,000 or so people listed to the station at some point during the week. Even the fundamentalist Christian station Radio Rhema gets better ratings than that.

Mediaworks Brent Impey lobbied Maharey to prevent the establishment of the YRN . Impey was worried that a non-commercial youth radio network would pull audience away from the Mediaworks stable of commercial music stations such as The Rock and More FM.

Despite saying that said that FM frequencies should never be given by the Government to anyone for free that didn't prevent Impey from snatching the three frequencies away from the YRN.

And as I said in a previous post:

What is also clear is that Maharey sideswiped his own Government's advisory group. The group, made up of representatives from student radio, access radio and some other media-savvy young people, was asked to consider the network among other options for enhancing radio services for youth.

The group strongly recommended a non-commercial youth radio network and the recommendation was backed by , among others, access radio and Mai FM.

Maharey promised to review the performance of Kiwi FM after a year but never did.

He also claimed that the deal with Mediaworks would not jeopardise the future of the YRN. Maharey was clearly being economical with the truth because Kiwi FM effectively torpedoed the YRN.

So its another ratings disaster for Kiwi FM - another ratings disaster in a string of ratings disasters. Do its DJs suffer from regular existentialist trauma, wondering if anybody is actually listening to them?

The station has little public appeal and virtually zero appeal for advertisers. Indeed the only reason the station survives is through generating government grants for New Zealand music promotion.

The failure of Kiwi FM is now attracting academic interest

The Aotearoa Centre of Journalism, Media and Democracy held a conference at the Auckland University of Technology in September.

One of the papers presented at the conference focused on Kiwi FM.

It was written by Auckland University of Technology radio lecturer Matt Mollgaard. The paper focuses on Kiwi FM to show how 'disinterested international equity is not able to protect and enhance unique national media systems.'

Mediaworks is owned by the Australian private equity company Ironbridge.


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