New Zealand Government decisions announced today will provide for up to four new FM radio stations in each region, and strengthen the role of local broadcasters, say Broadcasting Minister Steve Maharey and Communications Minister David Cunliffe.

The announcement follows a review of FM frequencies and approval of a new policy framework to promote local broadcasting.' The government is committed to supporting local broadcasters in establishing stations that reflect the interests and diversity of their community,' Steve Maharey said. 'In most regions there will be two non-commercial licences and two community-based commercial licences available.'

David Cunliffe said the allocation arrangements underlined Labour's commitment to broadcasting that reaches people across all New Zealand communities. 'The new arrangements will strengthen both commercial and non-commercial local broadcasting,' he said. 'This announcement carries through a pre-election commitment to make more frequencies available throughout New Zealand. We expect to finalise allocation conditions by early next year. Non-commercial licenses will then be allocated through an application process and commercial licences by auction.'

Up to two licences will generally be made available for local new entrant commercial broadcasting and two for local non-commercial broadcasting. Any further available licences will be used for future public broadcasting requirements, and unrestricted commercial broadcasting. Community broadcasting will also be enhanced through a modest increase in power for users of Low Power FM Broadcasting. These users generally serve local neighbourhoods and niche audiences.

Steve Maharey said the new policy framework would help to promote a diverse range of content and formats in every community. 'It is important that local communities have access to new formats and technologies as they become available so they continue to have a voice on the airwaves. The new policy framework will ensure all government decisions on broadcasting, for example on allocation of spectrum, take local communities into account.'

(Source: New Zealand Government)