Open Letter to the Broadcasting Minister on Kiwi FM
I remember Brent Impey threatening to throw me out of a window in the Eagle Technology building where Channel Z was originally based for mentioning the youth radio network on the Channel Z talkback show I hosted. It's funny how things turn, next Monday I have a guest column in Metro Magazine outlining to the Minister 3 ideas he could use to benefit public broadcasting. This column is well timed in light of the recent news on Kiwi FM's quiet deal to erode the reason they were given the youth radio frequency in the first place.
In my opinion, Kiwi FM was an ingenious strategic move by Impey to take away the non commercial youth radio network which would have threatened his other youth brands of the Edge, the Rock and Channel Z. Because Labour abused public broadcasting and under funded it during times of plenty, they blindly handed 3 frequencies (let's say $6 million dollars worth of frequency) over to Mediaworks to run a 100% NZ music quota.
Sounded like a great idea, it wasn't. I argued at the time that it wouldn't work and said Kiwi FM should be far broader than 100% NZ music. The deal relied on the ghettoization of NZ music and ended up making the numbers of hours played look good because it played 100% of the time, but Kiwi FM created a play list none of the other commercial stations bothered competing with meaning songs released would languish and sink beneath the wider radio radar.
Channel Z had worked because it had a 30-70 split of NZ Music creating a playlist the other stations competed against, allowing music to be broken for 6 weeks before gaining the trust of the station music director to add it to their playlist.
It was a synergy that died when Kiwi FM became a NZ music ghetto.
I'm not suggesting that a high level of NZ Music content shouldn't be on whatever get's done to Kiwi FM, but there must be a better way of doing this and the suggestion's I make in Metro changes the paradigm of the debate and should be examined by a public broadcasting industry struggling to stay afloat in an age of Government austerity.
Metro Magazine is out Monday 27th.