Welcome. My name’s Andrew Dubber and I’m a lecturer in Communication Studies at the Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand.

Here’s where I’ll be putting up links, information, thoughts, observations and the odd ramble – mostly in relation to radio, the internet, popular culture, and anything else I happen to find interesting at the time. There’ll more than likely be a distinct McLuhanist slant to all this, but the focus is to be anecdotal rather than academic.

In the last couple of weeks, the New Zealand radio industry, represented by the RBA (Radio Broadcasters Association), came to an agreement with the current Labour Government to undertake to increase the proportion of New Zealand music it plays on air. A voluntary target system was implemented, which sparked a great deal of debate on the NZ Radio email discussion list. You can join that here.

A friend in Wellington wrote to me, asking me to explain my comment on the list that “the targets are under threat only by those who wanted them so much in the first place” (or something to that effect). I replied:

Dear Confused of Wellington,

Sorry – that was perhaps me being a bit vague. I merely meant that having the music targets is a real trump card for any future negotiations with the minister as far as the radio industry is concerned – even though they didn’t actually want to have them.

The targets will come under threat if the people who wanted them in the first place (ie Marian’s office) starts to push hard on the YRN or something like it. Under that situation, the RBA would most likely threaten to take the targets back off the table. I imagine a scene going something like this:

Marian: I think we should talk about the 2011 frequency lease expiry.

RBA: Fine. Let’s talk.

Marian: I want you jokers to have to bid for them all over again.

RBA: No. We play New Zealand music. Voluntary targets.

Marian: Um… Okay… I think it’s important in fairness to the public, who own the spectrum that we allocate again from scratch – and it’ll help us redistribute the spectrum more evenly and make it all so much more manageable.

RBA: Yes, but what about voluntary targets?

Marian: What about them?

RBA: We agreed to play more NZ music against our better judgement.

Marian: How is this relevant?

RBA: We get our way with 2011, or the targets get taken off the table.

Marian: Ah… shall we extend the licences to 2021?

RBA: Indefinitely, please.

Marian: Bugger.

You get the idea. The targets are perfectly safe unless Marian tries to do something else that isn’t in the RBA’s interests. And I suspect that the music targets are – and will continue to be – her top priority, so the RBA will continue to get its way over pretty much everything from here on in.

Just an observation – and I’d be delighted to be proved wrong.

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