24 October 2000
Around the country, New Zealand's children are writing letters, colouring pictures and making cards. The message:
please, Prime Minister, can we have our own radio station?
To coincide with Children's Day at the end of this week, advocates of a nationwide radio station for children,
'KidsNet', have organised for primary and intermediate schools throughout New Zealand to become involved with a
letter-writing campaign. It highlights the fact that throughout the much-debated Youth Radio Network issue, children 12
years and under have been completely ignored.
In fact, while over 70 radio stations throughout New Zealand specifically target teens, not one caters to the specific
needs of younger New Zealanders. Commissioner for Children, Roger McClay says he can hardly believe that this has not
come up before: "Why don't we already have this?"
Under Article 13 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, children are guaranteed this level of
involvement in the media. New Zealand ratified the convention over seven years ago.
KidsNet organiser and AUT lecturer Andrew Dubber says the idea solves many of the government's sociological objectives
with the youth radio issue on a root cause level, while not attempting to undermine the commercial radio industry.
"Issues such as youth suicide are terrible and urgent problems," he says, "but to address it solely at the teen level is
like putting the ambulances at the bottom of the cliff. Radio is a powerful medium for shared experience and societal
integration, but you can't thrust culture on people as a remedial measure. It has to be there from the outset."
Dubber says that the station would broadcast nationwide, be non-commercial, interactive, fun and very educational. The
letter-writing campaign is a great way for schools to get involved, and for kids to participate in the democratic
decision-making process. "And, of course," he says, "it's free to write to parliament."
Since the demise of National Radio's 'Ears' programme and the 'Broadcasts to Schools', radio programming for children in
New Zealand has been almost non-existent.
For further information:
Andrew Dubber KidsNet PO Box 7370, Wellesley Street, Auckland 1036 ph: 09 379 5116 email: email@example.com