Radio New Zealand: , Radio NZ online in need of some healthy sponsorship

So Television New Zealand is preparing to deliver Internet video to pay customers - many of them in an offshore audience of unknown but apparently promising size.

So Television New Zealand is preparing to deliver Internet video to pay customers — many of them in an offshore audience of unknown but apparently promising size. But the historical failure of subscription-only Web publications has been held up by some as proof of TVNZ’s folly. But video is not the same as other Internet content — after all, subscription TV services are a multibillion dollar business and convergence is already in action here and elsewhere. Also, packaging and serving elements of your valuable archives to a targeted audience is not the same as seeking to charge people before you even let them in the front door. A private Web development company contracted to Radio New Zealand has made this model work for a couple of years — broadcasting National Radio live in RealPlayer format for free, but selling subscriptions to packaged archive content. Unfortunately, the audio streaming site itself (at is just as much of a crime against nature as it’s ever been (vile design, infuriating JavaScript pop-ups, a service that works only with the RealPlayer plug-in rather than the more useful standalone player — I could go on) and it has not, until recently, been accompanied by a conventional Web presence. In getting the cart so far in front of the horse, Radio New Zealand has missed out not only on a chance to better serve its listeners — but to leverage the startlingly tasty demographic those listeners represent. The periodic suggestions that sponsorship of on-air programmes on National Radio or Concert FM will become necessary are always met with howls of protest. That’s understandable. But the introduction of sponsorship (and even out-and-out advertising) into an Internet presence would be more palatable and less destructive of the broadcaster’s mission. After all, banner advertising for Telecom is already sold on the basis of National Radio’s good name by the operators of the streaming site. Imagine if RNZ itself could tout such prime positioning. If all those books and records reviewed on Kim Hill’s and Brian Edwards’ shows were listed on its site, along with an Amazon-style "buy this book" button. If the Concert FM programme schedule could be accompanied by an appropriately-sponsored national listing of classical music performances. If Replay Radio sold MP3 files the way it sells clunky old cassettes? Would anyone really complain? If it made visiting its Web site as much part of its audience as actually listening to the radio, RNZ might even, as TVNZ seems set to do with its forthcoming business portal, spawn a whole new kind of enterprise. Of course, RNZ is not TVNZ — its charter is different, its orientation toward public service much greater, its ability to experiment more constrained by budget. But a healthy, profitable, Internet presence based on the considerable sway the broadcaster continues to have on our culture would make it stronger than ever. The first thing it needs to do is regain control of its content. I don’t know the terms of the contract with the operator of the private streaming site — but I do know that it should not be renewed. Check out Radio New Zealand Online at A decent enough start, which includes good programme listings, easy order of Replay Radio cassettes, background about the broadcaster and links. But where’s that email address for Kim Hill? Contact Russell at

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments