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.

It's not often that I agree with Peter Dunne MP,  but he is right that it is an 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.


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