I thought it was dead, and then all of a sudden: It's alive! Alive! Maharey to the rescue of embattled, failed Canwest concept. Brave it was - but foolhardy. NZ music month/soft govt./"youth network" pledge by Labour party... cue: government subsidy.
The government will grant Kiwi FM access to new FM frequencies, under an agreement that will help the 100 percent Kiwi music station stay on the airwaves, Broadcasting Minister Steve Maharey announced today. [1 May]
"The government is committed to working with radio broadcasters to grow New Zealand 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.
Begs the question what the fuck National radio does. "National" radio... you know... the official state radio network... yeah that one... how much NZ music do they play? Much, much less than you'd think. And then there's the quality. "Taumaranui on the Main Trunk Line" and anything by "When the Cat's Been Speyed" is high rotate along with Wayne "Fucking" Mowat's Most Awful Renditions of the Early 20th Century show. If any government sponsored/owned station should be 100% it's NATIONAL Radio, surely? Surely! Oh but that's right, I forgot... I'm sorry... the pretentious, nannied, "cultured" resolute bird-callers would have a hissy fit... the lengthy letters from Karori housewives would be carted into the foyer of the Minister for Arts and Culture (yes her) by the bag load and... yeah, exactly.
Steve Maharey said the station had been granted the use of three FM frequencies for an initial period of one year, during which time it would work towards becoming a not-for-profit organisation.
"Towards"!? It's ratings are almost negligible! It certainly can't be profitable at the moment - or else why would Canwest (just a few months ago) announce the format was being scrapped: it is already a non-for-profit!
"Kiwi FM will take up the new frequencies from July. They will be Auckland 102.2FM, Wellington 102.1FM and Christchurch 102.5FM. 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.
"At least eight new specialist shows, funded by NZ On Air, will be included on the new format. These include shows for Independent, Alternative and New, specific genres, unsigned artists, label features and more."
Kiwi FM was launched by CanWest MediaWorks in February 2005 and is currently the only radio station that currently plays 100 percent Kiwi music.
Steve Maharey said airplay of New Zealand music had doubled since March 2002 when the government and the Radio Broadcasters Association launched a Code of Practice for New Zealand music content. Kiwi FM was one of the ways the industry could build on that success.
Well it was well on it's way to doubling before Kiwi and it's coming about was partly a method of Canwest staving off threats of a compulsory NZ music quota - wasn't it?
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."
No shit. He was probably doing cartwheels. A hospital pass to the government - congrats. Canwest shareholders will be delighted.
So Canwest can get to launch the commercialised banality of generic brand "The Breeze" on the old Kiwi frequency like they planned? Not so much killing two birds with one stone as resusitating them. Frequencies (to labour the avian metaphor) are like hens teeth. They are worth millions of dollars and Canwest - courtesy of the Labour government - get one for free. Is this what the government means by Public-Private-Partnerships?
Guest blogger, Mr Bradbury, has written some excellent analysis of Kiwi's predecessor, Channel Z, and it's important role in the radio and music system of breaking new local talent to the mainstream - a function since lost with Kiwi as it tends to the nostalgic. [sorry no link] So the news that better shows will be promoted is hopeful. But with 100% NZ music it is still pushing it uphill with a toothpick.