Hearing ourselves : globalisation, the state, local content and New Zealand radio.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
Local music content on New Zealand radio has increased markedly in the years between 1997, when content monitoring began, and January 2002. Several factors have contributed to this increase, including a shift in approach from musicians themselves, and the influence of a new generation of commercial radio programmers. At the heart of the process, however, are the actions of the New Zealand State in the field of cultural production. The deregulation of the broadcasting industry in 1988 contributed to an apparent decline in local music content on radio. However, since 1997 the State has attempted to encourage development of a more active New Zealand culture industry, including popular music. Strategies directed at encouraging cultural production in New Zealand have positioned popular music as a significant factor in the development and strengthening of ‘national’ or ‘cultural’ identity in resistance to the cultural pressures of globalisation. This thesis focuses on the issue of airtime for New Zealand popular music on commercial radio, and examines the relationship between popular music and national identity. The access of New Zealand popular music to airtime on commercial radio is explored through analysis of airplay rates and other music industry data, and a small number of in-depth interviews with radio programmers and other people active in the industry. A considerable amount of control over the kinds of music supported and produced in New Zealand lies with commercial radio programmers. In interviews, programmers expressed openness to the idea of playing New Zealand music on the radio, and an appreciation of the work of New Zealand on Air, while rejecting legislation setting quotas for local content. The Code of Practice for Local Music in Broadcasting introduced by the Radio Broadcasters Association in March 2002 offers a middle way between legislation requiring airtime for local music and the existing strategies of New Zealand on Air. However, New Zealand commercial radio is a nationally networked medium largely owned by global corporations, and its agendas are influenced by global commercial factors. These imperatives may not be consistent with attempts to use locally produced music to foster a unique New Zealand cultural identity. This thesis suggests that a New Zealand identity that is constructed through fostering New Zealand music on air will be a fluid and negotiated identity. It will reflect the need of the commercial music industry to ‘fit’ with international agendas, while maintaining points of difference and embracing localisation as a marketing tool.