Radio None

OUSA is strongly considering getting rid of student radio station Radio One after an independent review by financial services giant Deloitte recommended selling the station to save money.

In May the OUSA Executive commissioned Deloitte to “complete a review of the current organisational structure” of OUSA. On Thursday June 30 OUSA announced the results of the review to staff, with the most controversial recommendation being that Radio One be sold off to save money.
The prospect of the sale has generated a groundswell of feeling among students. Many see the station as a local icon and a bastion of local music culture.
The story has also hit national media, with luminaries such as TV3’s Samantha Hayes condemning the sale. Speaking to the NZ Herald she said "we need to make sure it'll be around for more students to cut their teeth, whether it's as newsreaders, musicians, copywriters, djs, production engineers..."
Large numbers of local and national musicians also rallied against the sale of the station, which has been widely credited with providing a launching point for Dunedin bands and talent.
The position of OUSA President Edgar on the sale has been difficult to gauge. Speaking from Victoria University in Wellington Edgar told Critic that he supported keeping Radio One, but that the focus of the station might have to change to reflect a more mainstream taste in music. He further commented that Victoria University had sold off its radio station and had recently brought it back, a re-establishment that cost considerable amounts of money, and a mistake he was keen to avoid.
This stance seems a marked shift from earlier statements Edgar had made on Facebook where, among other things, he wrote “the bottom line is that not enough of my students listen to the station because of what it is, and it's bullshit that radio one has received the funding (a v large amount of student money) for as long as it has while only being relevant to a hand-full of Scarfies. At the end of the day students need to trust the decision that I and my executive make because believe me it will be the right one for students.”
A post on the OUSA website signaled that the suggestion to scrap Radio One is being taken very seriously.
“As has been the trend for a number of years, this year Radio 1 is forecasting a deficit of $108,000 (taking into account funding and running costs). This is a significant risk to OUSA and as an organisation with limited opportunities for income, the Executive were concerned that this was not the most effective use of resources. In addition, in terms of services valued by students, Radio 1 did not feature well in the 2010 student survey, compared with other services.”
It wasn’t clear how this figure of $108,00 had been calculated, though OUSA President Logan Edgar stood by the statement, telling Critic that “whilst I am not an accountant the figure has been prepared by Deloittes, who are experts.” When asked if the Executive had checked the figure Edgar said that they had.
However staff inside the Planet Media have questioned the figure, and several employees stated that it seemed unprofessional to release such a statement without consulting anyone internally to verify the figure’s accuracy. Many also stated that they thought there was potential for people to be mislead by the statement, especially because it neglects to mention that many parts of OUSA also run at significant ‘deficits’ and rely heavily on funding generated by student levies.
Furthermore the proposal to sell Radio One may be problematic as the station operates a ‘non-commercial broadcasting licence’. This type of licence cannot be sold for profit (though it can be gifted), and places stringent conditions on the composition of broadcasting, and on the balance of advertising allowed to be broadcast. Since the 91FM frequency the station operates on is likely to be its most valuable asset it is doubtful that the sale of Radio One would generate any significant short-term revenue for OUSA.
Submissions from staff on the recommendations contained in the report have now been invited, and close on July 29.
Posted 11:40pm Monday 11th July 2011 by Gregor Whyte.