July 5, 2007

MPFM - Local Commercial Radio in NZ

Is this feasible?

Okay, I'm not sure about the whole concept of local commercial radio to be honest. I'd like to offer a point of view which may reflect the view of the big corporates. Consider these points:

TRN decided to keep local breakfast shows (like Classic Hits) in every region, because there must be some value in that for them - commercially and for local presence. A well funded company like themselves managed to quantify paying a small team of staff to sell and promote the station locally - albeit only in breakfast. Would you think that they are delivering a good case to say that 'local' radio already exists?

Before you answer - what if TRN's Classic Hits, decided to invest more money into really improving their local radio services by say, opening up more airtime like Drivetime - and putting more resources into local news services and community connection - especially ethnically in cities like Auckland and Wellington or rurally in Gore, Christchurch or the Waikato. More FM already is live and local everywhere - they'd just invest in more community coordinators and promotional content. Their parent has already shown interest in local events and making money from it. The two big networks would likely outperform a MPFM operator, because they are better resourced, and have a stronger financial base. What if the monster known as Newstalk ZB launched local breakfasts in every market as well to counter MPFM?

It's a chess game where it is becoming more apparent the big guys already have the upper hand.

Be honest with your thoughts about this, because if you want to try and take them on in this "local radio market", it could be a crippling reality check for you, and ultimately a dream-shattering waste of energy, money, stress and time.

I'm not saying give up - nor am I offering incentive for you to "take them on" - I'm just saying, if the big monopolies decided to step-up their local presence against you - would you stand a chance? They know what they're doing. They already have the advantage of consistency in local breakfast, and it wouldn't take much for them to develop their local presence in every market across the country. Their big network brands already make a fortune outside of local advertising - so they have the funds. This wouldn't hurt them much at all.

LPFM has been successful so far because it's livelihood DEPENDS on the large shadows that the giants create. LPFM excels in servicing the small niche pockets that are not feasible for bigtime operators to invest in. They're more interested in making big money. If MPFM spells enough cash-reward for them, they will invest.

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