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In my recent blog series, I discuss radio broadcasting in different countries. In previous articles, we took a look at radio in France and China. Now let’s dive under to New Zealand – a southwestern Pacific country, home to 4.7 million.


Early Radio

New Zealand radio began in 1921 when Professor Robert Jack at the University of Otago’s physics department started his first broadcast. Less than a year later, Radio Dunedin, began broadcasting as the first radio station. However, it was only in 1925 when Radio Broadcasting Company (RBC) started broadcasts throughout New Zealand. The RBC was set up to operate on the government’s behalf by buying a number of privately owned stations and converting them. By July 1927, only four RBC stations aired for seven hours daily. Each station was required to have one “silent” day per week.  There was also no advertising or news broadcasts, and religious programmes ran all day on Sundays. However, during WWII the government allowed radio stations to broadcast news for the first time.


Development of Private Radio

In the early 1930s, private radio stations started to emerge. However, this was quickly shut down by the government and the National Commercial Broadcasting Service. Privately owned stations would not arise again in New Zealand for another 34 years.

In late 1966 the first signals from Radio Hauraki are heard. Radio Hauraki would broadcast from an old wooden scow “Tiri” in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf. Four years later in 1970, Radio Hauraki is one of two new Auckland stations granted a permanent private broadcasting warrant.  The other goes to Radio I, which had been sharing the 1ZM frequency with the NZBC for the previous two years.


Radio Today

New Zealand now has almost 30 radio stations and networks. Although New Zealand’s government still dominates broadcasting, through privatization and deregulation, there are many private radio stations today. This allows for commercial talk and music stations. Radio New Zealand (RNZ) is the largest public service radio provider in New Zealand. RNZ shares the news, current affairs, and arts network, and classical and jazz music jazz all with full government funding.


New Zealand’s radio network has developed throughout the years, from strictly government-funded stations to now privately owned radio networks.


Mitch Levy has spent nearly 30 years in radio and sports broadcasting after earning a degree in Broadcast Journalism from Syracuse. Read more of his advice for the radio industry or check out his Twitter!