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Written by on 20 October 2014


In 1981, other broadcasters made objections to the university temporary broadcast licences that had previously been applied for and issued to the Auckland University Students’ Association, Massey University Students’ Association, UCSA, Victoria University Wellington Students’ Association, and the Waikato Students’ Union.

The matter came for hearing in the Broadcasting Tribunal before the chairman B H Slane, and members Lionel Sceats, and Janet Somerville.

The decision was dated 13 February 1981 and is summarised as follows:

Refer: Pink document 15

  • The decision seems to initially focus on the AUSA’s application but elaborates then on much wider issues.
  • The decision records that the AUSA has for a number of years applied for and been granted short term broadcasting authorisations in relation to Orientation and other events of the university year.
  • Hauraki Enterprises and Radio I had filed objections.  The Tribunal accepted the objection as reasonable and decided to adopt the Post Office’s recommendation that the power should be limited to 100 watts.  In declining AUSA the right to broadcast throughout Auckland (notwithstanding that students resided throughout the city) the decision recorded “the prime aim must be to communicate with students on or near the campus”.
  • There was another objection from Hauraki Enterprises relating to the commercial nature of the application.  AUSA had sought a restricted form of advertising for the purpose of financing the station’s operation and was proposing to offer advertising to “select” companies in the form of sponsored periods of time with a minimum of one hour during which only one company’s product would be advertised.  The sponsoring companies were said to have a “special relevance to students” and AUSA did not propose to advertise for the full 17 hours per day that their licence permitted them to broadcast.

Hauraki Enterprises objected on five grounds, namely:

  1. The offering of commercial products would prejudice the distinctive character of Radio B and would be a departure from previous objections;
  2. Existing student publications provide sufficient advertising;
  3. Competition between existing commercial media operators was intense in a tight market and the Tribunal has a statutory obligation to protect existing commercial broadcasting operations from erosion by temporary commercial media operators;
  4. All students are otherwise made aware of all services available to students;
  5. The granting of a general commercial authorisation would be a precedent.


  • As a result of discussions with Hauraki Enterprises, AUSA decided to amend its application to provide that advertising would be undertaken in the form of “exclusive sponsorship, the sponsoring company having its name or product associated with the four week broadcast in the form of ad libs and many interviews”.
  • The decision records that the Tribunal had previously approved advertising for the Massey students’ station on an experimental basis and the Tribunal was not aware of any dissatisfaction in that regard.
  • The matter was also now of particular relevance because of representations made by Radio Active, the Victoria University students’ (VUWSA) station.  The Tribunal held:


“Let it first be said that the Tribunal has encouraged student radio and has been disappointed that the provisions made in the Act which arose out of their own submissions for a more permanent form of authorisation or warrant have never been used by the Student Unions.  We are not clear why.  It is unfortunate that a number of applications have to be considered from some of the Universities every year when it should only be necessary to consider one from each. 

It also needs to be said that the Tribunal does not regard such stations as general broadcasting stations providing a service to a young audience.  Every application has to be treated on its merits and the student association applications are invariably put forward to provide a service to students.  Any wider purpose invites the examination of the application on a commercial basis akin to a warrant application.  It would have to be decided the extent to which the station should be in competition with those holding existing warrants which carry continuous transmission responsibilities and obligations to provide a number of other services to the community. 

University Student Association stations provide a worthwhile service to students.  We do not consider that broadcasting by these stations should necessarily be confined only to periods such as Orientation and we believe it would be better for such stations to have a more flexible approach as to hours of broadcast and a maximum number of hours per annum to develop services and provide for the needs of the university students without the need for several formal premeditated applications each year. 

Any application for commercial revenue must be carefully considered in the context of the student station operation.  After considering all the representations made, the Tribunal has concluded that commercial operations should be strictly limited and should not become a predominant part of the student operation.  Nor, should they become an essential part of the financing of the station.  The nature or measure of the restriction may vary from time to time but initially the Tribunal sees a simple time limit on the maximum advertising per hour as the simplest method of limiting advertising. 

It is considered that the advertising should primarily be available on the station for the benefit of (and directed to) the students.  It will also provide a service to those advertisers who want to reach a student audience at a particular time.  It appears to the Tribunal that the sponsorship approach may possibly appeal to student broadcasters as it has to the Auckland University Students’ Association in its amended application when it stated that the conventional commercial station approach “would not be the most efficient method of communicating with the student audience…”.  The authorisation will therefore provide a maximum of four minutes advertising per hour for the Radio B authorisation and that advertising will be limited to an association with the sponsor’s name with the station and interviews with the representatives of the sponsor to advertise services available to students. 

The four minute limit is only a small proportion of the maximum of 18 minutes permitted under the Broadcasting Rules and Standards but is about a third of the 12 minutes maximum on some commercial stations….  The Tribunal accepts that the radio communication with students need not be limited to information and that providing a music programme directed to the needs of the students is indeed a legitimate function of a station even if it impinges on the audience of a commercial warrant holder.  University students are but a small proportion of the total population even in university cities and it is likely that student stations can better identify their programme needs musically than stations which have to serve a wider audience.”

  • The Tribunal went on to note that Radio Active (for the VUWSA) hoped to earn $7,000 at a maximum of 18 minutes advertising per day and it was clear that the Association saw this revenue as assisting the Association as a whole, and not just the financing of the radio service.  The Tribunal held:

“The Tribunal is not prepared to allow full scale advertising for the reasons stated above.  We do not consider that the economic effect on other stations is represented fully by the amount of revenue likely to be raised, but rather by other more subtle commercial considerations.” 

The Canterbury Students’ application for 15 hours a day from 8am to 11pm commencing 23 February and finishing 14 March 1981 was approved.  That application in 1981 was non commercial and there had been no application on the part of Radio U (for the 1981 Orientation period) to accept any form of radio advertising or sponsorship.

The licence was issued on call sign 3XB, frequency 1422kHz

Refer: Pink document 16

On 26 March 1981, and in light of the Broadcasting Tribunal’s decision, the Broadcasting Tribunal Registrar B P Hayes wrote to Andrew Glennie advising that if Radio U wished to apply for short term authorisation and carry some commercials, they would need to reply including details of expected revenue and expenditure of that revenue.  The letter noted that:

“Other student stations have recently been allowed advertising limited to a maximum of four minutes per hour and directed to a student audience”.

This plainly led to some expansion of Radio U’s broadcast with the president on Radio U Society, Michael Higgins, writing to the Broadcasting Tribunal in December 1981 seeking the issuance of a licence for three periods in 1982, being enrolment in Orientation, April 26 to May 15, and July 19 to August 14.  In this letter, Michael Higgins noted the lateness of the application saying that there was a heavy workload “associated with getting our Children’s Broadcast on air” and that they were waiting until after the “Children’s Broadcast has finished in order to fully assess its viability before deciding whether or not to attempt the project again.”

Refer: Pink document 17

Document pink 18 shows that authorisation had been granted for broadcasting between 30 November 1981 and 24 December 1981 and Monday 4 January 1982 to Saturday 30 January 1982.  This licence provided at clause 5 that a general news service was not authorised and that news broadcasts could only include university and campus news items gathered by or on behalf of the station.  Other general news items could be broadcast only if they clearly have “special relevance to students… news items shall not be copied from other news media.”  All news bulletins and broadcasts had to be copied and available for listening by the Tribunal if requested.

Refer: Pink document 18

Personnel involved in the 1981 application were:

Michael Higgins – station manager;

Richard James – Radio U Society committee member and proposed station manager and announcer for 1981;

Andrew Glennie – honorary vice president of the Radio U Society, proposed technician and advisor;

Philip Cheyne – treasurer and proposed advertising manager;

Julian Sinton – proposed technical director;

Michael Shannon – proposed announcer and publicity director;

John McLaughlin – proposed announcer;

Kirsty Cooper – proposed announcer;

Leigh Pearson – part time journalist at Radio Avon and proposed information controller.

The licence for broadcasting in 1982 Refer: Pink document 19

The application said that the children’s station would broadcast during the day and at night time (times are variable and difficult to follow) the University student content would operate.

Refer: Pink document 20

The application sought a proposed total broadcast of 728 hours.  In relation to the student focused content at section 4.0 of the application, the station was to cater for students and would work in conjunction with the Department of Labour in publicising the Student Community Service Programme which commenced on November 1981.

“The station would attempt through this information service to assist students to find employment as easily as possible by informing them of the best times to apply and the correct procedures to follow in doing so.  The station would also broadcast information on academic courses being offered by the University in 1982, through information bulletins and interviews with University staff.  Notices would also be carried detailing pre-enrolment procedures.  The station would present a programme of contemporary music, placing emphasis on that music which is not featured by existing radio stations.  Special attention would be given to New Zealand music.  A minimum quota of 10% would be observed and tapes by unrecorded Christchurch artists would be played.”

This is the first time that an emphasis on New Zealand music, any form of quota and unreleased music has been a focus of any Radio U application.

In relation to the children’s programme, this was to publicise the student run Children’s Holiday Activities Programme (CHAP) and any other holiday activities aimed at children.

“As well, a general programme catering for the needs of children will be offered, incorporating interviews with personalities, competitions, music, comedy, drama and short documentaries.  Programming would attempt to cater for the letters five to twelve age group.  It is also hoped to feature background as to news and current affairs stories of the day, and we seek the Tribunal’s leave to do so.  Such items would be non-controversial and non-partisan.  They would seek to explain only the basic facts.  Professional advice would be sought.  Such a service would attempt to provide a radio equivalent of televisions “video dispatch””.

The application went on to say,

“It is realised that children in this age group are easily influenced, especially by the media.  It is also realised that a project of this nature, as run by students, is bound to be greeted with some mistrust by sectors of the community.  Teachers, parents, religious and professional organisations involved with the welfare of children have been approached for their suggestions on programming that the station would offer.”

“It is also hoped that a radio station will be able to bring some variety and interest into the lives of children in homes and hospitals and other institutions, for whom the holidays are invariably frustrating.”

The grounds for justifying the student broadcast over the holiday period was primarily justified on the basis of Department of Labour changes through which students sought holiday employment.  The DOL had recently invoked a stand down period meaning that applications for work could only be filed in the first week in December resulting in queues and “extreme pressure” on the DOL attempting to process all applications.  Tensions on both sides were aggravated by the lack of an immediate channel of communication to inform students about the correct procedures to follow and the proper times to apply.  It is hoped that a radio station working closely with the Department would be able to alleviate some of these tensions and engender a smoother enrolment period for both parties.

Further, the station was designed to assist in spreading information about pre-enrolment requirements and it was “hoped that a radio information service would be able to notify students of the correct procedures to follow in pre-enrolling; and through interviews with academics and information bulletins present a broader base of knowledge on which course decisions can be made…. The station would provide an off-air telephone line to which enquiries could be directed.”

As to technical, the TRS MF-100 transmitter, owned by the Radio U Society, was to be used, together with a 30m Vertical Guy Support Antennae system on the 1422kHz in the MF waveband.

The entire project was to be funded from an $850 budget including $100 in equipment installation, $100 in telephones, $150 in administration and day to day running, $300 in publicity and $200 in contingency.

An insurance policy covering libel, slander and infringement of copyright was held in the order of $100,000.




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