Caption: Morning Report has improved.
RNZ is damned if it rates poorly and damned if it rates well. RNZ did well in the latest second radio ratings survey from new research firm GfK recently, including growth in Morning Report and Checkpoint. It appears that online growth has resulted in an increase in the radio audience, which suggests a strategic success. Yet you will not see RNZ heavily promoting the win by rubbing it in noses of individual commercial radio stations in promotions
Radio survey results are issued a week later at RNZ than they are at commercial stations, and RNZ does not go out of the way to promote good results for individual timeslots. Fairfax’s Sunday Star-Times gave RNZ a plug at the weekend – providing a welcome piece of good news. Jana Rangooni is chief executive of the Radio Broadcasters Association and she confirmed that commercial radio did not want the results for commercial and RNZ to be compared. The raw material used in gfk survey is the same, but commercial results are used to sell ads and RNZ results merely to define performance. The one week gap is required so there is less likely to be a comparison in publicity about the ratings survey.
Beyond that, there are good reasons why RNZ itself does not want to be compared to commercial radio Largely they cannot afford to do too well. According to a government source, “nothing has been said.”
But if RNZ takes audience away from commercial stations, then it can expect more pressure from commercial radio for the government to reduce taxpayer funding on the basis RNZ has an unfair advantage, and that is taking away their audience.
An RNZ source said that the tensions had always there. But in RNZ;s current relationship with National the state broadcaster walking a tightrope. If it rates poorly it will be dismissed as failing and irrelevant. If it is doing well, commercial stations will lobby against it. Some will see this as entirely fair. Commercial stations make a profit and pay tax. Others will see the current system unfair brake on the success of public radio. The government holds a bias against radio. This system ensures it never succeeds too much. It’s another “Fail” for New Zealand broadcasting policy.