Sunday, February 19, 2012

Kiwifm 60% local

Press release on Kiwifm rejigging it's 100% kiwi music format.... will it affect their NZOA funding? [answer: no]

"Kiwi FM has announced that as of Monday 20 February it will diversify its music format to include 40% international music.

Andrew Szusterman, Group Programme Director – Music Brands for MediaWorks Radio, says the move is designed to secure a wider audience for the New Zealand music that the station champions.

“We know that audiences enjoy hearing their favourite New Zealand artists mixed in with international artists, so from now on Fat Freddy’s Drop, The Naked And Famous and Kimbra, will play alongside international artists such as Radiohead, Lana Del Rey and Phoenix.

“By adding the best alternative music from around the world, we believe we’ll bring a wider audience to the station and so provide a better platform for the New Zealand music Kiwi FM plays.”

In accordance with the Ministry for Culture and Heritage licence for Kiwi FM [amended by KiwiFM and the Ministry in March 2011 from 100% to 60%], the station will play a minimum of 60% New Zealand music and will still deliver up to three times more New Zealand music than is currently heard on any other commercial radio station. The specialist music shows and announcer line-up of Kiwi music advocates remain unchanged."

ADDED: From Radio NZ: "The programme director for Mediaworks' music brands, Andrew Szusterman, says Kiwi FM has been losing money for years. He says it attracts about 21,000 listeners a week, while the music station with the most listeners has more than 400,000.

Kiwi FM gets $300,000 a year from NZ on Air to produce several New Zealand only music shows and Mr Szusterman says that funding will not be affected by the change."

[NOTE: regarding comparing KiwiFM's 20,000 listeners a week with the station with the most listeners - a better comparison would be BFM or GeorgeFM, which pull around 35-45,0000 a week. ]

ADDED:  Range of responses to the changes at KiwiFM on their Facebook page some supportive, some negative - KiwiFM has replied to several folk critical of the change, saying "We are definitely not a commercial radio station, we are non profit and will stay that way."

[ Karyn Hay, then-GM of KiwiFM wrote an open letter in 2006  where she said the aim was for KiwiFM to work towards becoming a non profit organisation. Was that ever achieved?]

Scott Muir from (and deputy chair of IMNZ) quoted the then minster Steve  Maharey's press release on the initial arrangement for KiwiFM's frequencies...

"From Steve Maharey's press release: "The government is committed to working with radio broadcasters to grow music," Steve Maharey said. "We support the concept of a station that plays 100 percent Kiwi music, and we're keen that it has the opportunity to develop and expand the range of Kiwi music it plays....

...As part of the agreement to use the frequencies, the station's brief will be to significantly expand its content to include a greater range of New Zealand Music....

...Steve Maharey said airplay of music had doubled since March 2002 when the government and the Radio Broadcasters Association launched a Code of Practice for music content. Kiwi FM was one of the ways the industry could build on that success.

CanWest CEO Brent Impey welcomed the announcement: "CanWest has long been a strong supporter of Kiwi Music. Kiwi FM was launched a year ago to enhance this support. This agreement puts Kiwi in a positive position for the future."

Scott then asked "So exactly HOW does this change square with the above please KIWIFM ?

KiwiFM replied"The Ministry of Culture and Heritage, the Ministry responsible for the administration of the frequencies we use, is fully behind the change. That of course was their decision, not ours."

Martyn Bomber Bradbury (ex Channel Z, the station that KiwiFM replaced) weighed in on the KiwiFM FB page, noting that he has a column about the future of KiwiFM in the new issue of Metro, out next week.

From Martyn's blog: "Why Labour handed over $6million worth of radio frequency ($2million a frequency) to a foreign owned media company without so much as a plan has NEVER been explained to me by members of the Labour Party. When I bring it up with them now they cringe and get flustered.

Now it's not even 100% NZ music, why this scam continues is beyond me. As someone at Channel Z, I told the managers it wouldn't work, 6 years on, surprise, surprise it didn't work."

ADDED Mon Feb 20: NZ Herald has reported on the changes at KiwiFM, using a photo of Debbie Chote of Kiwi FM - unfortunately, it's the wrong station. Chote worked at Te Puke's now defunct KiwiFM community radio station, not Mediaworks' KiwiFM.

The story also states that Kiwi FM grew out of Channel Z - that's untrue. Channel Z was scrapped and replaced by KiwiFM.

The headline for the story says KiwiFM 40% less Kiwi from tomorrow. That's also incorrect. The changes come into effect today - the press release sent out for the changes came out yesterday, saying the changes take effect 'tomorrow'. [headline now reads 'Kiwi FM not so kiwi anymore']

The story closes by saying "Fully commercial radio stations are required to play no less than 20 per cent New Zealand music."  That's incorrect. The quota of NZ music is voluntary.

ADDED Feb 20: Dom Post reports that "Broadcasting Minister Craig Foss, who found out about the change from The Dominion Post yesterday (Sun), said he would be in Wellington today and look at the situation.

"I will be asking of my officials that all existing agreements with them are being adhered to and, if not, further discussions need to be had."

Since the New Zealand music quota was removed last year, commercial radio stations continued to play a lot of New Zealand music, he said."

If this last quote is accurate, the Minister is misinformed. The quote was/is voluntary (so can't have been removed as such), and I don't recall hearing anything about it being removed.

One commenter on that story asked "how is Kiwi supposed to achieve anything when it's essentially unmarketed?" That's a good question. KiwiFM has suffered because Mediaworks has spent barely a cent marketing KiwiFM, so they get tiny ratings. No marketing = no audience.

NBR reports that "Kiwi FM's frequency deal with the government expires in June."

ADDED Feb 20, 2.20pm: Radio NZ reports that "Mr Foss says the station was required to play entirely New Zealand music under its intial deal, but KiwiFM changed that provision to 60% when it re-signed its licence with the Government in March 2011."

ADDED Feb 20 730pm: From Radio NZ:  "Opposition parties say the Government has taken the Kiwi out of Kiwi FM by allowing it to reduce its New Zealand music quota." Listen.

Broadcasting Minster Craig Foss says that ICT Minister Amy Adams is now working out what will happen to the three frequencies. "It's part of the greater discussion about this block of spectrum in particular, so no, I am not part of that discussion at the moment," Foss told RNZ.

TV3: Kiwi music industry no longer props up Kiwi FM.

ADDED Feb 21 8.00am: From NZ Herald's media John Drinnan - Concerns over secret deal to cut NZ content. He reports that Steven Joyce was involved in the deal to reduce KiwiFM's local content from 100%  to 60%. "That agreement will be renewed in July, said a spokesman for Broadcasting Minister Craig Foss."

[AMENDED - the NZ Herald story had this note added to it - "This story has been changed from an earlier version that referred to a spokesman for Broadcasting Minister Craig Foss saying the agreement over local content would be renewed in July. An agreement over content will instead be considered in July."]

The story also observes that "deals involving public assets and tradeoffs in regulatory oversight have become commonplace under this Government", highlighting the Hobbit law changes, the SkyCity casino deal Steven Joyce is working on, allowing more pokie machines in the casino in return for them building a major convention centre, and the 2009 deferment of Mediaworks fees for its radio frequencies, effectively a $43 million loan from the Government. Steven Joyce is the former owner of Mediaworks.

A number of commentators, like AUT Radio Lecturer Matt Molllgard (a highly vocal critic of KiwiFM, who is doing his PHD on the station) have suggested the three frequencies, Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, with their commercial value would be far better left to tender but instead the current arrangement is “just sitting on them”. See also NBR - "There is a suggestion that National should now be putting Mediaworks’ three Kiwi FM frequencies up for tender."

It is my understanding that the frequencies KiwiFM currently uses are a block reserved by govt for community, non profit use exclusively, and cannot be put out to tender to the highest bidder, like standard commercial frequencies.

Of course the Government could regulate to change this, and, as Craig Foss noted on RNZ, these frequencies are currently under discussion by the ICT Minster Amy Adams.

[See Karyn Hay, then-GM of KiwiFM open letter from 2006  she refers to this]

ADDED 23 Feb Indie Music NZ respond to KiwiFM format change... IMNZ hopes that " doing so Kiwi FM's handlers will continue to programme "a diverse and interesting range of NZ songs, not just limiting itself to a formulaic 'Nature's Best' style playlist" said IMNZ's chairman Ben Howe.

Howe says "we would wish to remind everyone that Kiwi FM's frequencies were put aside for public access radio of some sort and we advocate a radio entity that has the ability to grow a decent audience, support local music and break new artists - as has been successfully done in Australia with Triple JJJ."

Declaration of interest: I DJed on KiwiFM for three and a half years til June 2011, hosting their High Noon Tea nz reggae and downtempo show.


Bob Daktari said...

saddened but not surprised... perhaps they'll introduce some more listeners to local fare now... or slowly revert to a Channel Z format...

either way LCD format driven commercial radio is increasingly the past (regardless of what radio people say) so rearrange those deck chairs all ya want I await spotify et al

BTW - Scott is deputy chair of IMNZ

Benjamin said...

So what's more important, New Zealand music or Alternative (Rock) music? I choose the latter.

If Channel Z came back (without the crappy 80's and earlier stuff and all the hip-hop, rap, and dance foiped on them by other commercial stations) then I would definately listen to a formative peice of my past again.

Anonymous said...

This type of wheeling and dealing is typical of the current lot in government.