Radio New Zealand International [RNZI], the country's shortwave broadcaster receives no additional funding in the latest government budget for 2010/2011 announced in Wellington yesterday.
Funding remains at NZ$1.9m [US$1.26m] and it's required to deliver 16 hours of good quality reception daily to a minimum of 11 Pacific nations with one 100kW analog transmitter installed in 1990 and one 100kW digital capable transmitter installed in 2005.
The primary coverage nations it's funded for are French Polynesia, Cook Islands, Tokelau, American Samoa, Samoa, Niue, Tonga, Wallis and Futuna, Fiji, Tuvalu, New Caledonia and Vanuatu.
The secondary coverage nations are Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Nauru and Kiribati, whilst general coverage must be provided to the Asia/Pacific and Pacific Rim region including the Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands and Palau.
In addition, RNZI must increase the number of Pacific radio stations relaying or rebroadcasting its news bulletins to 18 and is permiited a maximum 1% of transmission time lost from equipment failure.
The Radio Heritage Foundation welcomes the continued funding of RNZI as recognition by the government that it provides a valuable service for New Zealand's interests in the Pacific.
'At a time when many shortwave broadcasters face budget cuts and complete closedown of services, this continued confidence in RNZI's ability to deliver a quality service with a bare-bones budget is tribute to the extreme dedication to duty and pragmatism of the entire RNZI team" says chairman David Ricquish.
RNZI provides valuable cyclone, extreme weather watch and tsunami warnings for the entire South Pacific region. It also provides local FM quality news, information and other programs for rebroadcast on a growing number of local Pacific island radio stations.
"With Fiji in media censorship lockdown and media freedoms poorly understood in many of the target nations, RNZI provides local listeners with a respected and valuable news source from a Pacific perspective" adds Ricquish.
"Every week, thousands of New Zealanders are on holiday, on business visits or working and living in the Pacific and RNZI provides a valuable service for their continued safety."
"To maintain this security, RNZI should also be urgently capital funded for a replacement of the 20 year old analog transmitter with another high power digital capable shortwave transmitter sooner rather than later" says Ricquish.
Catastrophic RNZI transmitter failure co-inciding with natural disasters or sudden political events and instability in the region could threaten the lives of New Zealanders and New Zealand's security and commercial interests.
Radio Heritage Foundation is a registered non-profit organization connecting popular culture, nostalgia and radio heritage across the Pacific. It's global website www.radioheritage.net offers free community access to Pacific Radio Guides and other valuable resources. Annual supporter packages start at US$10 and online advertising rates are now available.
Radio Heritage Foundation