Wellington Scoop

RNZ chairman agrees to continue Concert on FM, promises more local music

RNZ chairman Dr Jim Mather, whose board had approved the plan to move the Concert programme off the FM band, said today he welcomed the government’s decision to look at freeing up an additional FM transmission frequency to enable its Concert station to continue broadcasting on FM.

Last week RNZ announced it would remove Concert from its FM frequencies and transform it into an automated nonstop music station, with no announcers, which would stream online and play on AM radio. The plan was widely criticised and yesterday Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she would draw up a plan to keep the station running – using an available FM frequency.

Today RNZ reported that its board had released a statement in which the chairman said:

“The board of RNZ takes seriously its Charter obligations to provide a public media service for all New Zealanders and, as part of that, we remain committed to the new multi-media brand and its exciting range of innovative offerings beyond simply music targeting young people.

“To date we have been restricted to two FM transmission networks to serve the diverse audiences specified in the RNZ Charter.

“This is an excellent opportunity as it will allow RNZ to launch a multi-media music brand for younger people on multiple platforms including FM while continuing to provide a classical music service broadcast on FM and other platforms.

“The Board of RNZ continues to be committed to ensuring that the public broadcaster is relevant to as broad a range of New Zealanders – age, income and ethnicity – as possible and this requires us to broaden our appeal beyond our current loyal audiences.

“We are particularly excited by the opportunity to provide a platform for New Zealand artists to share their unique talents in a way that will also complement our existing range of online services. One of the key goals of this new brand is to play local content at higher levels than commercial broadcasters.”

RNZ also reports that the Prime Minister said this afternoon that the Cabinet is still in discussions over opening up a new frequency. If confirmed, that frequency will then go on to be the youth station, with Concert remaining where it is. “[The new frequency] was always intended for youth radio and youth programming,” she said, “so we believe that should relieve some of the pressure RNZ has acknowledged, and ensure that we retain Concert, which is our focus.”

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  1. Elizabeth Kerr, 11. February 2020, 16:14

    The announcement from the RNZ Board is not adequate. We need to know the skilled but depleted staff team at RNZ Concert is not facing redundancy. Without them, the network will just broadcast the jukebox in stereo. [via twitter]

  2. Marion Leader, 11. February 2020, 17:27

    I agree with Elizabeth Kerr.

  3. Neil Douglas, 11. February 2020, 19:00

    Genius Jacinda! How much does Dr Jim Mather and his team get paid to come up with their awful Plan A? Sack the lot of them and get some people with empathy for classical, jazz and world music. True lovers of music would not even need paying much to assist broadcasting brilliant music.