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Regional and community broadcasting framework 2019

2019 Regional and community broadcasting policy framework


 Terms and Conditions


  1. The purpose of the Regional and community broadcasting framework (the Framework[1]) is to:
  1. act as the foundation for making decisions when allocating radio licences
  1. ensure decisions are aligned to Government’s media goals and objectives[2]
  1. provide the objectives for broadcasting services aimed at New Zealand’s diverse communities.

Principles for the Framework

  1. The framework will be guided by the following principles:
  • support diverse communities to participate in and contribute to New Zealand’s national identity
  • improve access to quality New Zealand content on a range of platforms
  • establish a fair and transparent process for allocating radio licences.


  1. The Framework’s two goals are:
  1. To enable a range of broadcasting services to be provided to New Zealand’s diverse audiences
  1. To allocate non-commercial radio licences to providers of radio services who can demonstrate the ability to deliver content on a range of platforms appropriate to their audiences


  1. The Framework’s three objectives are:
  1. Promote local broadcasting services – ensure there are suitable regional and community options among the general broadcast services available to New Zealand audiences to:
  • assist coverage of regional news, current affairs, information, local music, sport, and cultural events
  • reach underserved regional, local, and community populations and ethnic, linguistic, and other minority groups with shared interests
  • ensure providers are owned and operated independently from national commercial networks.
  1. Promote innovation and a diverse range of content and formats for different audience identities and interests –provide a policy base for non-commercial licence allocation, which complements what the market already provides, by
  • ensuring a robust, independent frequency allocation process
  • focusing allocation on applicants who have proven media expertise, and access to sustainable funding sources
  • requiring applicants to demonstrate strong involvement with their community and community activities.
  1. Align government approaches and monitor appropriately
  • provide clarity around Government expectations, and guidance to non-commercial licence holders and applicants
  • align over-arching policy and NZ On Air policy, while respecting the independence of the funder
  • provide clarity on the Ministry’s monitoring role.


Terms and conditions for non-commercial radio broadcasting licences


  1. ‘Non-commercial’ radio licences[3] will only be issued to operators that:
  • show a strong geographic, social demographic or community of interest connection with the target audience, with programming focused on the needs and interests of the audiences they serve
  • have a physical presence within the coverage area
  • offer a service that runs for at least 12 hours a day for the period of the agreement, unless negotiated otherwise.
  1. The licensee will operate for the term/period/duration agreed to under its agreement with the Ministry for Culture and Heritage.
  1. If there is any doubt around the interpretation of the terms and criteria provided below, the decision of the Ministry for Culture and Heritage will be final.



  1. The licensee must be able to show that the broadcasts fulfil community needs, as defined in the 2019 Regional and community broadcasting policy framework, and that they don’t duplicate existing formats available in the region.
  1. This means that the non-commercial radio broadcast operation:+
  • offers services that complement existing “for profit’ services rather than duplicate them
  • increases the diversity of programme choice for New Zealand’s diverse communities
  • provides access for local and regional programme makers and/or content for communities of interest.

Entity type and management

  1. The licensee must be a company or an incorporated society or charitable trust or other entity, any of which must be operated on a charitable or 'not-for-profit' basis.  Members of the governing body may not directly profit from the enterprise.
  1. Staff may not be paid any more than the industry standard for work of a similar nature, and the broadcast operation is not to be mainly used to raise funds for charity.
  1. The licensee must be able to show that it has the technical and financial capacity to fulfill the broadcasting outcomes in the proposal. The proposal will need to clearly indicate financial viability to operate a radio station assuming government funding may not be available.


  1. The licensee must be able to confirm it has a fundraising mechanism that allows it to function with no more than six minutes of commercials per clock hour, and no more than 50% of revenue derived from advertising. Other income may include sponsorship.
  1. The licensee should also be able to demonstrate an understanding of the potential changes in the broadcasting environment and its ability to adapt to these changes.


  1. The service should include programming designed to cater for its target audience and/or a variety of audiences in the coverage area, with a focus on previously unmet needs and interests of listeners.
  1. It must include some or all of the following content broadcast from within the coverage area:
  • local news, information, stories and history
  • discussion of community issues, including political processes
  • public media to inform, entertain and involve a specified or under-served local community or communities of interest.
  1. Where possible, the licensee should demonstrate they have established and maintained working relationships with a broad variety of groups within their communities.


  1. The licensee must be able to show that its broadcast operations have sufficient accountability mechanisms to ensure that it delivers on its contractual undertakings to provide services.  These arrangements include:
  • Evidence of professional systems to ensure efficient operations and financial management
  • provision of satisfactory services to the target audience/s.
  1. The licensee will submit an annual compliance report to the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, not less than three months after each anniversary of the granting of the licence, demonstrating that licence conditions are being adhered to.
  1. The report should include:
  • relevant financial and ownership information including financial statements
  • a full list of shareholders, directors, board members and/or trustees, as appropriate
  • details of content priorities delivered in that year.
  1. The licensee will make a copy of each annual compliance report available to the general public, including on its website if it has one, for at least three years from the original publication date. 
  1. All non-commercial radio licences will be subject to a licence agreement between the licensee, the Ministry for Culture and Heritage and the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment. 
  1. All licensees must comply with the requirements of the Broadcasting Act 1989 and the Broadcasting and Advertising Codes issued by the Broadcasting Standards Authority and the Advertising Standards Authority respectively.
  1. All radio broadcast licences are subject to the provisions of the Radiocommunications Act 1989 and the Radiocommunications Regulations 2001.  Where a compliance issue can’t be referenced directly to the Act or Regulations, the terms and conditions contained in this document will apply. In all cases, the decision of the Chief Executive of the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment will be final.
  1. The licensee must agree to a compliance audit being done at any time.


  1. Non-compliance applies to all of the conditions and criteria contained in this document.
  1. If found to be non-compliant, the licensee will be served with a written notice by the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, with a requirement to be compliant within a specified period.
  1. If non-compliance continues, the licence may be revoked by the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment without financial compensation 30 days after the licence holder has been informed by a final notice and fails to remedy the situation. Any future licence applications from the same or any associated applicant may be refused.

Licence renewals/extensions

  1. All applications for renewals of a radio broadcast licence must be accompanied by enough evidence to verify that non-commercial licence agreement conditions have been met. Licensees also need to provide the Ministry for Culture and Heritage with two of the most recent annual compliance reports referred to above.
  1. Unless the period is specifically extended by the Ministry, licensees must begin radio services within one year of being allocated a frequency, and must maintain services or face having their licence revoked, without refund of any relevant fees.

Dealing with complaints

  1. The licensee must respond in writing to individual complaints relating to the terms of the licence agreement, within 21 days of receiving the complaint. Such complaints may include for example, matters relating to airtime allocations and community involvement.
  1. Copies of the complaint and response need to be sent to the Ministry for Culture and Heritage. The Ministry for Culture and Heritage may investigate further, including a compliance audit, if necessary. 
  1. This does not include content complaints, which must be determined within 20 days in accordance with Broadcasting Standards Authority guidelines.


  1. Licensees may not transfer, modify, lease or share the frequency, or otherwise surrender control of transmissions on the licence, without permission in writing from the Ministry for Culture and Heritage.
  1. When an agreement has been reached with the Ministry for Culture and Heritage that allows an entity other than the original licence holder to operate the licence, the original licence holder may still be required to maintain responsibility for the conduct and programming of the station to ensure adherence to the purposes and licence agreement for which the licence was issued in the first place.
  1. The Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment will retain the right to modify, transfer or revoke the licence in terms of the Radiocommunications Act 1989.
  1. The licensee may voluntarily relinquish the licence to the Ministry for Culture and Heritage if it is no longer able to meet the eligibility and operational criteria.

[1] The Framework applies to regional, local, community and minority audiences, including ethnic minorities, communities of interest, youth and underserved communities.

[2] Government’s media objectives are: Support more quality NZ content in all genres across a variety of platforms; Better cater to Māori; Pacific and other under-served audiences; Enhance national identity; Promote an informed democracy; Safeguard media independence; Support plurality in news and current affairs.

[3] The annual fee is under Schedule 6 of the Radiocommunications Regulations 2001.


Updated on 7th October 2019