12 Aug 2011

RNZ trust not for core funding - board chair

8:03 pm on 12 August 2011

The chairman of Radio New Zealand's board says a charitable trust for its Concert station will be used to support live concerts, create scholarships and archive more music - not to fund the station.

In May this year, board chair Richard Griffin told a Parliamentary select committee that a trust for Radio New Zealand Concert was being considered.

The trust is now registered on the Charities Commission database.

Mr Griffin told Morning Report the charitable trust is nothing to do with funding the station.

He said such a trust is unlikely to be considered for Radio New Zealand National, but other options must be considered.

"I'd like to talk to the Government about the sort of funding that goes into TVNZ, for instance, and suggest that it could be more efficiently and more effectively and more professionally and more intelligently used on Radio New Zealand funding than it is for Television New Zealand."

Mr Griffin says Radio New Zealand is not on it knees, but it is managed within an inch of its life by a very smart management team who account for every dollar.

He says it is doing better in terms of audience than it has in the past decade and online streaming has been successful beyond expectations.

Mr Griffin says the auditor general has told the board that Radio New Zealand is the best managed and fiscally controlled organisation in the state sector.

He says grand pianos owned by the network have been sold for about $100,000, but describes that process as just housekeeping.

The Labour Party's broadcasting spokesperson says the Government has forced Radio New Zealand into a position where it has had to set up a charitable trust - and that could lead to corporate sponsorship.

Claire Curran says it was made clear in the select committee that the Government and broadcaster are considering this and is calling on Broadcasting Minister Jonathan Coleman to explain what the Government's intentions are regarding corporate sponsorship.

RNZ could emulate US public radio - academic

A senior lecturer at the New Zealand Broadcasting School, Brian Pauling, says the trust sets up Radio New Zealand to distance itself from the state and rely on money from its new funding method.

He says the National Public Radio network in America gets about 8% funding from the state and the rest from its trust.

Mr Pauling says if Radio New Zealand goes down this path, in years to come the whole sound of the brand could change because sponsorship and advertising could be introduced, as on the US network.