The New Zealand radio industry was deregulated twelve years ago. Discuss the changes that have resulted from that process. What has this meant for the business of radio? Public ownership? The audience?
In the beginning there was control. There were tribunals, there was red tape, there was censorship and somewhere amongst it all was the New Zealand radio industry. Of course it was the government who had the industry on the short leash and early on they would use radio as a vehicle for their own purposes. Many people disliked this idea and as a result we were given more news, lectures and even religious services (be them all closely monitored). Having had enough of the "nazi' broadcasting authorities, "pirates' went to sea in the mid-sixties for commercial radio. "They sought to crack open the state monopoly in New Zealand radio" (Cocker, Deregulation and Commercial Radio, 52) by broadcasting from international waters in the Hauraki Gulf outside of New Zealand jurisdiction. It took three years but "Radio Hauraki', including Derek Lowe (who this information comes from during his February 26 lecture) cracked the government and became the first illegal station ever to gain a license.
From Cocker I have learnt that the industry paused here briefly at an intermediate stage. In this stage the new, private, commercial radio stations competed under the watchful eye of the state through the seventies and eighties. With the coming of a new Labour government came the move from total regulation to full deregulation, completing the swing. "A dramatic free market broadcasting experiment" (Cocker, Deregulation and Commercial Radio, 52) was imposed and brought with it, intense competition. This idea of increased competition was to play a big part in the changes to come. So what are these changes?
Total deregulation is seen as a new era in the industry. Cocker sums it up clearly by explaining what has occurred in two stages. At first there is a "Boom" in the market. The floodgates open and a whole array of new stations pop up. This is because frequencies became a lot easier to access. No longer would you have to wait up to eighteen months and prove that you would be aiming for an area of the market that would not take profit away from other stations. For example, in 1991, the number of radio stations in Auckland doubled from ten to twenty. "Nationally there were four networks and around 108 stations" compared with "two networks and 50 stations five years earlier" (Cocker, Deregulation and Commercial Radio, 52). At this time, stations target a wide area of listeners and often end up competing directly with others. There is a push to be number one in a general sense. Early on it was Hauraki who lead the charge and at one stage they "had 34% of the market share"(Lowe, 26/2 lecture).
Within this first step it is acknowledged that not everyone will survive. When everyone is trying to get a piece of your pie you have to fight, and...