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Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Kiwi survives

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.


At 2/5/06 11:23 am, Anonymous bomber said...

I worked at Channel Z for almost 8 years, and saw a lot of the behind the scenes wheeling and dealing. The sad thing about Channel Z was that it got dicked a lot (initial grand opening in Christchurch that got cut back to nothing, enforcing Auckland playlist onto Wellington and of course changing the fucking frequency in Auckland) all these things made Channel Z that yummy fish n chip shop you used to go to heaps until you had a bad bout of food poisoning - so it went from its 5% ratings to a 1.7% - the decision came from on high that we should turn it into a 100% NZ music format. Channel Z had jumped to 40% NZ content off the back of a bunch of us at the core of Channel Z philosophy that believed there had to be a crossing point from the Student Radio stations (true champions of NZ music) to the commercial stations (worst enemy of NZ music), However I argued against the 100% music mix because Channel Z had this amazing ability to be the breaker of music in the commercial world - we played something and the overtly cautios Edge and Rock would add the track 6 weeks later - they would do this because the risk of a new track was incredibly diminshed - I argued that if it went 100% NZ music then the other stations wouldn't bother 'keeping up' with the playlist - which is exactly what has happened - the other stations no longer bother to compete with the Kiwi playlist, thus destroying the amazing 'golden' age of NZ music on commercial airwaves - because Kiwi plays 100% NZ music the current figures are incredibly inflated and the labels and bands know this (ask them how much harder it is for their music to get airplay) - case in point - last years NZ music month kicked off with a 5000 strong crowd, this year it fell to 500. Channel Z was a fluke, a commercial station that had a 'public radio soul' - not only did we champion NZ music but through our Talkback show we also did a lot of public radio-esk social conscience content. I'm not surprised the Govt. came to the rescue here, if Kiwi was cut off, the NZ music figures on commercial stations would look appalling and open the Government to attack of failing to carry out their much hyped policies. The problem now is how to make Kiwi (it is currently rating 0.7) popular to youth - which was my beef with it from the start. I put forward a counter proposal at the time that we call it kiwi but with a 50% NZ music mix so that it forced the other commercial stations to compete with the playlist - so that the bloody thing remained relevant - I am waiting to see what will eventuate....

At 2/5/06 7:26 pm, Blogger peterquixote said...

don't think I could stand a 100 per cent kiwi screach, whats the point of such dedicated parochialism, is there anyone out there wants 100% NZ ?? naah ,
that alternative kiwi there you got a compound metatarsal, an opaque cornea and wicked circulation, almost impossible to fix I'd say, wouldn't be surprised Canwets they start playing Glenn Campbell soon as Maharey go away,


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