Peter Dunne MP is asking why Kiwi FM is still squatting in three valuable publicly-owned radio frequencies - something this blog has been asking for over three years.
insult to supporters of TVNZ7 (RIP) that the Government has let Kiwi FM continue broadcasting on three valuable publicly-owned FM frequencies. These frequencies had been originally reserved for the non-profit Youth Radio Network.
While it refused to continue funding TVNZ7, the Government has renewed a contract with commercial broadcaster MediaWorks to allow Kiwi FM to squat in the frequencies for another six months. This is the station that can barely muster one percent of the total radio ratings In a desperate bid to attract listeners the station recently dropped its all-New Zealand music format - which was the reason it was backed by the previous Labour Government in the first place.
To add insult to injury, MediaWorks is still receiving $300,000 in annual government funding for Kiwi FM. And let's not also forget that the Government 'loaned' MediaWorks some $50 million so the cash-strapped broadcaster could pay for the renewal of its frequency contracts.
My three regular readers will know that this blog has consistently highlighted the broadcasting travesty that is Kiwi FM.
I'm not going to rehearse all the arguments again here except to point out that Peter Dunne was a member of the Labour Government that did the shonky deal with Kiwi FM in the first place. But, to be fair to Dunne, it was the inept Minister of Broadcasting Steve Maharey who was responsible for the doing the dirty backroom deal with Brent Impey from MediaWorks.
It is an absolute farce that Kiwi FM promotes itself as non-profit, but has, in fact, been just another part of the commercial, private equity-owned MediaWorks group. So the public have been funding a station owned by commercial interests. MediaWorks, while not hesitating to stick its nose in the public trough, has itself been a consistent and hostile critic of public broadcasting in this country.
The present Minister of Broadcasting, the hopeless Craig Foss , is also proving to be a Broadcasting Minister who MediaWorks enjoys working with.
In February he said that the Ministry of Communications was 'investigating' what was to be done with the three frequencies once the contract with MediaWorks had expired.
The final result of the 'investigation' is. that Kiwi FM will remain squatting in the three publicly owned frequencies for another six months. This is presumably until Foss can work out how he can hand over the publicly owned FM frequencies to commercial interests without too much fuss.