New Zealand music on radio - a way forward

Published: Tue 14 Aug 2001 04:15 PM
New Zealand music on radio - a way forward
Popular music has a vital role in helping us define New Zealand as a unique, dynamic and creative nation. We have proved that through the recent successes of bands such as Fur Patrol, Zed, Hinewehi Mohi, and King Kapisi, such popular music icons as Neil Finn, Dave Dobbyn, and Bic Runga, and stepping back a little further in time, Ray Columbus and the Invaders and John Rowles. These artists have more than held their own both on New Zealand radio playlists and offshore.
New Zealand popular music has enormous potential for growth as a vibrant creative industry, but its cultural potential is limited unless it is available to a wide audience.
That is why we see the urgent need for an increase of New Zealand music on our airwaves. The radio industry can build upon its achievement in recent years in raising the levels of New Zealand music broadcast, and its work to date monitoring and publishing those levels of New Zealand music, by developing a self-regulatory system for increasing these levels further.
I would like to hear from the commercial radio industry about how an Industry Code of Practice for New Zealand Music could operate and have asked them to present proposals to me by Monday 1 October 2001.
During this time I plan to meet with key players in the radio industry to discuss the Government's objectives and design parameters for a system for increased levels of New Zealand music on radio.
If that process fails we will need to look at a mandatory quota system to ensure that New Zealanders hear more of their country in their music and for us all to experience the cultural and economic advantages that brings.
Hon Marian L. Hobbs
Minister of Broadcasting
New Zealand music on radio - a way forward
Since the broadcasting reforms and open entry to the broadcasting market of the late 1980s there has been a substantial increase in the number of commercial radio stations in New Zealand, particularly in the main centres.
There are now over 200 radio stations in the country - Sydney, with a population of over 4 million, has just 10 commercial radio stations .
This has resulted in a highly competitive market in which many broadcasters are concerned to minimise commercial risk, tending to favour music that has already proved successful overseas, over less well known New Zealand music.
There has been some improvement in the overall amount of New Zealand music played on commercial stations in recent years, but it still fails to meet desirable levels.
Quarterly figures provided to the Australasian Performing Rights Association (APRA) indicate that music items performed by New Zealanders make up some 10.75 % of total music items across all commercial radio formats as of June 2001.
New Zealand Music Content On Commercial Radio
Quarter A/C Pop Rock Alt Overall
June 1997 3.62% 4.42% 4.05% 25.61% [ 6.01%]
September 1997 2.41% 5.95% 5.33% 22.33% [ 5.90%]
December 1997 2.89% 3.79% 5.44% 18.96% [ 5.26%]
March 1998 2.78% 4.18% 5.01% 21.81% [ 5.27%]
June 1998 4.16% 5.60% 6.85% 22.53% [ 7.14%]
September 1998 5.17% 7.19% 8.83% 22.23% [ 7.56%]
December 1998 4.78% 7.17% 9.26% 22.78% [ 7.49%]
March 1999 3.67% 6.65% 9.06% 23.41% [ 6.67%]
June 1999 5.96% 8.61% 10.53% 24.33% [ 8.68%]
September 1999 6.01% 8.55% 10.07% 25.58% [ 9.01%]
December 1999 7.55% 10.34% 11.11% 28.13% [10.48%]
March 2000 8.37% 9.30% 11.61% 28.69% [10.47%]
June 2000 8.75% 9.17% 10.45% 29.37% [10.42%]
September 2000 8.23% 9.19% 11.89% 29.17% [10.36%]
December 2000 8.29% 8.77% 13.70% 29.08% [10.54%]
March 2001 8.58% 9.05% 13.10% 29.08% [10.70%]
June 2001 7.30% 9.77% 13.69% 32.35% [10.75%]
This reflects a steady improvement from just 5% - 6% overall in 1997, but is still well short of the Government's goal of 25%. It also reflects how important the results for Adult/Contemporary and Pop formats are in determining the overall averages.
A strong commitment to local content by commercial broadcasters is needed to help ensure that the full range of New Zealand radio listeners have sufficient opportunity to hear our own music.
Popular music has a key role in helping us define New Zealand. It also has enormous potential for growth which, along with our other creative industries, can contribute to the economic well being of New Zealand, providing rewarding employment opportunities for creative entrepreneurs and good economic returns.
The government is supporting a range of initiatives to increase the production of New Zealand music. Increased exposure and promotion of New Zealand music on air will ensure cultural as well as economic dividends from this investment.
A system for increased levels of New Zealand music on radio will complement the government's other initiatives to encourage a strong New Zealand music industry, notably the establishment of a Music Industry Commission which has been funded $2 million over five years to foster New Zealand popular music, composition, performance, recording and marketing. The Commission is working on promotional initiatives with the music industry, NZ On Air and Creative New Zealand, including this year’s New Zealand Music Month.
In addition to this, NZ On Air received extra funding in May 2000 for music production and promotion, almost doubling its music budget from $2 million in 1999/2000 to $3.78 million in 2000/01. NZ On Air has proposed to work with broadcasters and the Music Industry Commission towards achieving New Zealand music levels of 15 - 20 % on radio.
In 2000/2001 Te Mängai Päho allocated $400,000 to the production of Mäori music albums for distribution to the Mäori radio stations and for sale to the general public, and also purchases Mäori music singles from its Youth/Music allocation. Te Mängai Päho has made a commitment to continue this initiative in the 2001/2002 year, and is also considering an increase in the purchase of Mäori music singles.
Since July 1999, Creative New Zealand has made contemporary music culture grants totalling over $400,000, including some $130,000 towards the production of new recordings. In addition, Industry New Zealand is developing a strategy for fostering the New Zealand music industry.
Industry code of practice
An industry developed and managed system and Code of Practice for New Zealand music on radio " owned" by the industry may be as effective as government regulation.
Already the radio industry working with the music industry:
 has established the incentive of the "double digits" plaques for stations achieving 10%
 settles questions of category and definition
 monitors performance
 publishes results
 reviews and refines the regime as it sees fit.
An industry Code of Practice would build on the industry's existing system and relationships with the recording industry, funders and the music industry.
A New Zealand example of a similar self-regulatory approach can be seen in the advertising industry through the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and Advertising Standards Complaints Board (ASCB). In Australia, the broadcasting industry self-regulates using an Industry Code of Practice to manage levels of Australian music on commercial radio.
Such an approach in New Zealand would allow the industry to use its knowledge and experience in designing, managing and developing a more comprehensive and systematic approach than exists at present.
Key features
A system for increased levels of New Zealand music on commercial radio should be simple in design and cost effective to administer. The Government’s view is that a system incorporating the following elements would effectively promote awareness of New Zealand music and musicians among the full range of potential audiences.
New Zealand music items
Music items with a New Zealand performer should be counted. While there are several options for determining whether an item counts as New Zealand, a performer-based specification is likely to capture the majority of music with significant New Zealand involvement. This approach is consistent with current APRA criteria and with the Australian Code of Practice.
Onus on broadcaster to identify New Zealand music items
An informal system, which places on the broadcaster the onus of identifying items as New Zealand has the advantage over more formal systems of minimising compliance costs. Evidence of an item's status as a New Zealand item might include the performer's citizenship, nationality, residence, ancestry or other personal connection with New Zealand.
Target level
An initial target level of a minimum of 10 % New Zealand music as a proportion of total music items entails a modest improvement in performance by most stations in the first year. A period of five years allows stations time to adjust incrementally to a 25% level.
Single target for all formats
A single target applying across all formats is considered administratively less complex than format specific targets. Adult contemporary and pop formats, averaging 7.30% and 9.77 % New Zealand music respectively as of June 2001, are broadcast by the majority of existing stations and have the largest audience share. The proposed target, applied across formats, would on average require an increased New Zealand music content in these formats in the first and following years and would require an improvement over time from most stations broadcasting a rock format.
Broadcast Hours
Applying the system for increased levels of New Zealand music to broadcasts between 6am and midnight allows programming flexibility within the day and ensures that awareness of New Zealand music is promoted among a wide range of audiences at both peak and off peak listening times.
Value of music items
Each music item should have the same value as another, irrespective of the number of times it is (or has been) played. Variations would complicate the system.
Music in advertisements and programme or station themes should be excluded from the system. Counting such uses of music is unlikely to advance significantly the aims of the proposed system and would be complex to measure.
Performance measurement
Quarterly figures
Individual stations should provide quarterly playlists (e.g. in the format currently supplied to APRA) to an appropriate monitoring body. This would minimise compliance costs for stations by using data already collected.
Annual assessment
Assessing compliance annually by averaging quarterly performance over a calendar year contributes overall to greater exposure of New Zealand music while allowing for programming flexibility. This retains the opportunity to rectify a shortfall in a calendar quarter in the remaining quarters of the year.
Appropriate sanctions
A system for increased levels of New Zealand music on radio system should include provision for appropriate sanctions for non-compliance to be applied by an appropriate monitoring body. These might include such measures as compulsory broadcast of notices and fines.
Responses to issues raised in this paper should be provided by Monday 1 October 2001 to:
Hon. Marian L. Hobbs
Minister of Broadcasting
Parliament Buildings
Fax: 04 495 8467
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