RNZ's chief executive has admitted the public broadcaster did not ask the government for an additional frequency for its proposed youth channel before going public with plans to take RNZ Concert off FM in favour of the new station.
Last week it was announced RNZ is proposing to remove Concert from its FM frequencies and transform it into an automated nonstop music station, which will stream online and play on AM radio.
On Monday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she was frustrated by RNZ's decision, and would draw up a plan to keep the station running.
Today the RNZ board released a statement thanking the government for exploring options for a multi media music brand.
Chief executive Paul Thompson told Checkpoint today the government's decision to look at freeing up additional FM transmission frequency was a "very positive outcome".
"We think it's really affirming that the government has endorsed our strategy, which is that RNZ needs to become more relevant to younger people and that a new music service is a great way of doing that, whilst at the same time reaffirming that RNZ Concert has got a very passionate set of listeners and supporters, and there's a future for that brand as well on FM."
But it is understood Broadcasting Minister Kris Faafoi had met with Thompson and board members earlier, asking them to hold off making any decisions until further work had been done on alternatives.
Thompson told Checkpoint there had been a "miscommunication".
"I think we obviously didn't explain it clearly enough, and when we were talking about our plan, there was an assumption that it wouldn't be obvious initially that the FM transmission would be affected, and I think that was just a glitch in the communications.
"We did believe that we had carefully briefed everyone we needed to about our plans, but there was miscommunication over one key point.
"And that key point [was] over whether we would be talking publicly about the loss of Concert on FM and I think that's where there was a miscommunication, and look, it's unfortunate.
"How we got there was very bumpy and rocky," he said, "but we do think that it's really affirming that the government has endorsed our strategy, that RNZ needs to become more relevant to younger people, and a new music service is a great way of doing that."
On Tuesday afternoon, Jacinda Ardern said while no decision had been made, the Cabinet was still in discussions over opening up a new frequency.
If confirmed, that frequency will then go on to be the youth station, with Concert remaining where it is.
"[The new frequency] was always intended for youth radio and youth programming," she said, "so we believe that should relieve some of the pressure RNZ has acknowledged, and ensure that we retain Concert, which is our focus."
Faafoi said he supported trying to keep both stations on air. "I think that's good because I think the ability to attract a new audience is actually very important," he said.
RNZ board welcomes government support
RNZ chairman Dr Jim Mather said earlier today he welcomed the government's decision to look at freeing up additional FM transmission frequency for its Concert station.
"The board of RNZ takes seriously its Charter obligations to provide a public media service for all New Zealanders and, as part of that, we remain committed to the new multi-media brand and its exciting range of innovative offerings beyond simply music targeting young people," Dr Maher said.
"To date we have been restricted to two FM transmission networks to serve the diverse audiences specified in the RNZ Charter.
"This is an excellent opportunity as it will allow RNZ to launch a multi-media music brand for younger people on multiple platforms including FM while continuing to provide a classical music service broadcast on FM and other platforms.
"The Board of RNZ continues to be committed to ensuring that the public broadcaster is relevant to as broad a range of New Zealanders - age, income and ethnicity - as possible and this requires us to broaden our appeal beyond our current loyal audiences.
"We are particularly excited by the opportunity to provide a platform for New Zealand artists to share their unique talents in a way that will also complement our existing range of online services. One of the key goals of this new brand is to play local content at higher levels than commercial broadcasters."
RNZ's decision drew the ire of many high level New Zealanders, including Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and former Prime Minister Helen Clark.