Waiheke Radio Frequency sells for $380,000
Written by brent on May 28, 2008
The Waiheke Community Radio Trust is very disappointed that an island radio frequency auctioned by the government’s Radio Spectrum Management Group has been purchased by an off-island group.
WCRT attended the auction and was bidding on the frequency which eventually sold for $380000, putting it well out of our reach. The successful bidder was World TV Limited, a company that runs a number of Asian language TV and radio stations.
The $380000 paid for the frequency was the second highest sum paid for any frequency in the country in this auction round. The last Waiheke Island frequency auctioned, in 2003, also went for a very large sum, $378000. The effect of the high prices paid is that Waiheke interests are priced out of the market as there is not sufficient population to support either a commercial or non-commercial operation that had to recover such an amount.
The problem arises because the Radio Spectrum Management Group regard Waiheke as part of the Auckland radio market. Island frequencies attract high sums at auction because Auckland radio frequencies are hard to come by and a Waiheke based signal can be broadcast to parts of the city that are highly sought after. The problem for potential Waiheke broadcasters is that the only places you can broadcast to Waiheke from are the island itself and the Sky Tower where frequencies go for close to one million dollars, but because these licenses are picked up by players in the Auckland market Waiheke misses out.
Waiheke Community Radio Trust have volunteers with the technical ability to ensure that our low powered station will provide a clear signal to those living from Oneroa to Onetangi despite the challenges posed by the island’s hilly terrain. We are currently broadcasting a test signal to Oneroa and Blackpool on 106.7fm and will soon have a second transmitter covering Surfdale, Ostend, Palm Beach and Onetangi. While we can broadcast effectively on low powered FM, ultimately we would like to be able to broadcast a full powered signal to the island. We are disappointed that the two full power radio licenses operating from Waiheke are utilised by groups with no connection to, or interest in, our local community.
The Radio Trust is also taking up the issue as a political battle and are planning to approach the government and the Ministry of Culture and Heritage to make the case for the allocation of a non-commercial radio license to be operated by a Waiheke broadcaster.