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Association of Community Access Broadcasters

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Title: Association of Community Access Broadcasters  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Radio in New Zealand, Media of New Zealand, List of radio stations in Southland, List of radio stations in Waikato, The Edge (New Zealand)
Collection: Community Radio Organizations, Media Companies of New Zealand, New Zealand Radio Networks
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Association of Community Access Broadcasters

Association of Community Access Broadcasters (ACAB)
Broadcast area New Zealand
First air date 1981
Format Community Radio
Owner Twelve community radio trusts

The Association of Community Access Broadcasters (also known as the Access Radio Network), is a group of twelve New Zealand community radio stations. The stations were established between 1981 and 2010 and have received government funding since 1989 to broadcast community programming and provide facilities, training and on-air time for individuals and community groups to produce programming.

In addition to government funding conditions, the stations also have an individual and collective mandate to broadcast programmes for people of a wide range of particular religions, cultures, languages, ages and sexualities. Stations operate independently and locally, with each station expected to make decisions on programming and scheduling by internal consensus.[1] In total, they produce content in at least 40 different languages.[2]

The member stations currently serve Auckland, Waikato, Taranaki, Hawke's Bay, Manawatu, Wairarapa, Kapiti, Wellington, Nelson, Canterbury, Otago and Southland. Some community stations have powerful frequencies, while others are low-power stations with a small local reach.[3]


  • History 1
    • Funding 1.1
  • High-tier stations 2
    • Planet FM 2.1
    • Free FM Hamilton 2.2
    • Wellington Access Radio 2.3
    • Plains FM 2.4
  • Low-tier stations 3
    • Radio Kidnappers 3.1
    • Access Radio Taranaki 3.2
    • Access Manawatu 3.3
    • Fresh FM 3.4
    • Otago Access Radio 3.5
    • Radio Southland 3.6
    • Arrow FM 3.7
    • Coast Access FM 3.8
  • Frequencies 4
  • References 5


The association was set up in the early 1990s following a meeting between community station managers and New Zealand on Air officials in Wellington. It was the first opportunity many station managers had to meet each other and share the challenges each station had faced, including operating on limited resources, relying on volunteer support, serving diverse communities or operating from remote locations.

It has since established itself as the national lobbying and resourcing organisation of community radio stations and aims to promote, develop, foster and support the community access model. It is affiliated with and emulates the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia and the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters but has no domestic affiliations. Instead, it has become a self-support network, allowing the stations to share resources and ideas.

Each year, the association holds an annual general meeting at a member station and appoints a chair, secretary and treasury with each station allocated a single vote every year. The association has remained non-profit and consensus-driven, with discussions taking place in face-to-face meetings, teleconferences and via email. However, while the association can introduce policies, it cannot dictate the content of individual community radio stations.[4]


The logo for the Broadcasting Commission, known publicly as New Zealand on Air.

In 1989, the Broadcasting Act set up the Broadcasting Commission - known publicly as New Zealand On Air - to fund New Zealand content for both mainstream and minority audiences. Funding of access radio has always been a part of that function, and the ongoing funding of the Association member stations remains a core component of the Commission's Community Broadcasting Strategy. A government funding pool of approximately $2 million is now allocated annually for the eleven stations to produce programming for women, youth, children, ethnic and other minorities and people with disabilities in accordance with section 36(c) of the Broadcasting Act.[5][6]

Individual station funding is allocated on a four-tier system based on audience reach, with each station receiving between $110,000 and $220,000 in annual, contestable and publicly transparent funding rounds. Auckland's Planet FM is in the highest-funded Tier 1 as the community radio station for New Zealand's largest city. Free FM Hamilton, Community Radio Wellington and Plans FM Canterbury are Tier 2; Radio Kidnappers in Hawke's Bay, Access Manawatu, Fresh FM in Nelson, Otago Access Radio and Radio Southland are Tier 3; and Arrow FM in Wairarapa and Coast Access FM in Kapiti are on the lowest-funded Tier 4.[7]

High-tier stations

Planet FM

Planet FM
City of license Auckland, New Zealand
Frequency 104.6FM
Webcast Live stream
Website Official website

Planet FM broadcasts on 104.6 FM MHz in Auckland. It also specific programmes targeting Tongan, disabled, Roman Catholic, Korean, Buddhist, Sri Lankan, Samoan, Punjabi, Ghanaian, Irish, Scientologists, queer, Fijian, Cook Islanders, South Indian, Christian, Zambia, Indonesian, Assyrian, Filipino, Japanese, Croatian, Hare Krishna, Bollywood, Sikh, New Zealand hip hop and mental health communities.

The station is one of New Zealand's most multilingual media outlets, and broadcasts in English, Tongan, Arabic, Mandarin, Singhalese, Niuean, Punjabi, Tamil, Cantonese, Khmer, Telegu, Tagalog, Hindi, Nepali, Spanish, Italian, Gujarati, Marathi and Afrikaans.

Free FM Hamilton

Free FM
City of license Hamilton, New Zealand
Frequency 89.0FM or 106.7FM
First air date 1992
Webcast Live stream
Website Official website

Free FM began as Access Radio Hamilton in 1992, with a focus on broadcasting "by, for and about the community" for a wide range of audiences and interests. The station has more than a hundred volunteers, produces almost a hundred shows every week and is available on low-power 106.7 MHz (FM), high-power 89.0 Mhz (FM), through online podcasts and via live streaming. In addition to Government funding, it also draws support from community trusts and a Rotary Club.[8]

After lobbying for several years and raising more than $100,000 to expand its reach, Access Radio was granted a license for a new FM frequency in October 2011 when the Ministry for Culture and Heritage re-designated the 89.0 mhz frequency for general community use. The new full-power frequency allowed the station to reach a much wider area and audience that its previous AM or low-power frequencies, with coverage north of Huntly, south of Tokoroa, east of Te Aroha and west of Raglan.[9][10]

The station switched off its 1206 kHz AM frequency and turned on its FM frequency in October 2012. To coincide with its expanded reach, it rebranded as Free FM and organised a series of events in several Waikato towns. Since then, the station has encouraged individuals and groups to request free airtime and training, on-air interviews or the posting of community notices. Station manager Phil Grey has described the station as "real community radio" that "belongs to all of us".[11] The station is operated by Waikato Community Broadcasting Charitable Trust and over 100 volunteer broadcasters present more than 80 locally produced programmes on the station each week.[12]

Wellington Access Radio

Wellington Access Radio
City of license Wellington, New Zealand
Frequency 783 AM
First air date April 1981
Webcast Live stream
Website Official website

Founded in April 1981, Wellington Access Radio was the country's first community access station and remains its oldest, broadcasting 80 programmes in more than 25 different languages every week. The station is available on 783 kHz (AM) from Taupo in the north to Blenheim in the south, but the organisation is explicitly focused on serving and celebrating everything in the local Wellington community. The station is also streamed online, with programmes also archived as individual podcasts.

Wellington Access Radio is non-profit and raises money through membership fees and a lease fee for programme makers. It aims to attract a loyal and diverse audience, rather than maximising audience numbers. However, the station claims to have had 140,000 podcast downloads and live streams during 2011.[13] As the pioneering station in access broadcasting, the station claims to provide a media platform for ethnic, sexual and religious minorities, children, young people and disabled people it believes aren't usually heard on mainstream radio. There are also specialist programmes on health information, animal welfare, political and social causes, world music and other specific genres of music.

Plains FM

Plains FM
City of license Christchurch, New Zealand
Frequency 96.9FM
First air date 29 February 1988

Plains FM is based in Christchurch and has been broadcasting to Canterbury on 96.9FM since 1989.[14] It provides training and facilities to groups and individuals in Canterbury who wish to make their own radio programmes by, for and about their communities.

The station specifically caters for under represented groups such as women, children and youth, ethnic groups and other minorities.[15] It's contracted to provide a specific number of hours per week of programming for these groups as defined by Section 36c of the Broadcasting Act, 1989.[16] Its programmes are broadcast in English, Arabic, Cook Island Māori, Dutch, Fijian, Filipino, French, German, Indian, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, Nepali, Samoan, Taiwanese and Tongan. When access programmes are not broadcasting, Plains FM specialises in a diverse ‘adult alternative’ playlist of jazz, blues, alt country, soul, world and kiwi music.

Plains FM and their programme makers have won a number of New Zealand Radio Awards. Edward Swift won Best New Broadcaster for Plains Mornings and has since gone on to become online editor for Newstalk ZB and Radio Sport.[17] Mark Belcher received Best Community Access Spoken/Informational English Language Programme for A Belch on Sport in the same year, and Naoko Kudo won Best Community Access Spoken/Informational Programme in Any Language for Japanese Downunder in 2009. In 2008, the Vox Radio Award Open went to Naoko Kudo and Paddy Holder for Aki's Adventures Downunder, Best Spoken Ethnic and Access Programme went to Joanna Cobley for The Museum Detective and Paul Featherstone was also a finalist in the same category for Out of the Glow. In 2007, the same category went to Tim Bergh for Tim's Talk.[18]

Low-tier stations

Radio Kidnappers

Radio Kidnappers
City of license Hawke's Bay, New Zealand
Frequency 104.7FM, 1431AM
First air date 1995
Webcast Live stream
Website Official website

Radio Kidnappers has broadcast in the Hawke's Bay on 1431 kHz (AM) since 1995 and 104.7 MHz (FM) since the early 2000s. The ethos of the station is its catchphrase "putting you on air" and it invites everyone and anyone who isn't a professional broadcaster and isn't usually heard by mainstream media to make programmes for their communities. Its reach covers most of Hawke's Bay, including Wairoa and Mahia in the north and Waipawaa and Waipukurau in the south. It also claims to be available in Dannevirke, Gisborne and Taupo at night or during the right atmospheric conditions.[19][20][21]

The station features a range of programming, including language shows, student-made programmes and political debates.[22][23] One of the founding programmes of the station is Sunday night Christian music show At Close of Day. The two-hour programme has been hosted consistently since its first episode in April 1995 by volunteer host Charles Herb Peterson, who received a Hastings Civic Honour Award in part for his contribution to the station. The show is self-funded with some support from the Salvation Army and includes contemporary and alternative music, Christian commentary and devotional messages.[24]

Access Radio Taranaki

Access Radio Taranaki
City of license Taranaki, New Zealand
Frequency 104.4FM
First air date 2010
Webcast Live stream
Website Official website

Access Radio began in 1981, when Radio New Zealand allowed Parliamentary broadcaster 2YB to be used for community broadcasting outside the live proceedings of Parliament. The station began as a three-hour programme on Saturday mornings, with Cindy Beavis serving as the founding station manager. In 2010, New Zealand's newest community access broadcaster was formally established in New Plymouth as Access Radio Taranaki. The station aims to be transform people's lives, by allowing them to broadcast by themselves without editorial censorship or oversight.[25] Over 119 community groups were consulted and over 75 had signed up for broadcast hours before the station could make a case for New Zealand on Air funding and begin broadcasting in July 2010.[26] [27]The funding covers about 60 percent of its operating costs, with other financial support coming from local community trusts and councils.[28]

The station is currently managed by Daniel Keighley and chaired by Graeme Beals, and it features a diverse range of programmes. It is the only radio station in the southern hemisphere with a radio show hosted by a young person with Down Syndrome, There are also shows for the visually impaired, for women recovering from strokes, for people living with Aspergers, for elderly veterans, for young women surfers and for people living with mental illness. Language programmes are broadcast in French, Russian, Polish, Turkish, Spanish and Swiss-German. Music is also played based on the tastes of audiences at different times of the day.[29] The station has also received funding from local community boards south of Mount Taranaki for mobile broadcast technology that allows schools and cultural, medical and special interest groups to prerecord their own radio programmes.[30]

Access Manawatu

Access Manawatu is available on 999 kHz (AM) in Manawatu.

Fresh FM

Fresh FM
Broadcast area Nelson/Tasman
Frequency Nelson/Tasman, New Zealand 104.8FM
Takaka 95.0FM
Blenheim 88.9FM
First air date 1994
Class Terrestrial/Internet
Webcast Live stream
Website Official website

Fresh FM is available on 104.8 MHz Tasman, 95.2 MHz Nelson, 95.2 MHz Takaka and 88. MHz Blenheim.[31] It is run by the not-for-profit Tasman Broadcasting Trust in the top of the South Island. Local iwi have given it the name "te reo irirangi o te tau ihu o te waka a maui".

Fresh FM broadcasts from studios in Nelson, Motueka and Takaka to a combined population base of over 80,000 people. The station plans to open a studio in Blenheim for reach a further 20,000 potential listeners. It is the only community access radio station in the region and is the only one in New Zealand operating over such a wide region and using studios in multiple locations. It was formed under the umbrella of the Tasman Broadcasting Trust in 1994 whenNew Zealand On Air suggested Boulder Radio in Nelson city and Harvest Radio at Te Awhina Marae in Motueka merge to combine their resources.

A wide variety of programming is made by locals, including drama, music and documentaries that reflect the top of the South Island. Programme makers represent the Nelson/Tasman and Marlborough regions in the broadest sense, giving their own time to make radio programmes that reflect the life stream of the community. Fresh FM's current contract with New Zealand On Air provides funding which covers about 55% of operating costs. The station is required to meet the shortfall through limited general advertising, programme sponsorship, listener subscriptions (Club Fresh) and donations.

Otago Access Radio

Otago Access Radio
City of license Dunedin, New Zealand
Frequency 104.5 FM, 1575 AM
First air date 1990
Webcast Live stream
Website Official website

Otago Access Radio broadcasts on 1575 kHz across Otago and 104.5 mHz in Dunedin.[32] It has been previously known as Toroa Radio and Hills AM and has been based in Dunedin since it was established in 1990. Otago Access Radio has several paid employees, but is largely run by volunteers. The current manager is Lesley Paris.

At the station's air awards in September 2008, Hills AM announced that it was changing its name to Toroa Radio. Toroa, the Māori word for albatross, was chosen as being representative of the Dunedin area due to the location of a notable albatross colony within the city limits at Taiaroa Head on Otago Peninsula. In March 2011, the station was renamed again, to Otago Access Radio, broadcasting on 105.4FM.

Write On, the radio show of the Otago Southland branch of the New Zealand Society of Authors, is hosted by local crime fiction author Vanda Symon. Sustainable Lens is a weekly show on sustainability, with co-hosts Shane Gallagher and Samuel Mann take a sustainable perspective on current topics in the world around us. Less Signal is an hour of experimental music, noise, free improvisation, drone and musique concrète; talking with local practitioners, aficionados and promoters and highlighting performances and releases, and was one of the first radio shows to interview the Futurians.[33][34]

Radio Southland

Radio Southland is available on 96.4 MHz Southland.[35]

Arrow FM

Arrow FM broadcasts on 92.7 MHz in the Wairarapa and has programmes for students, Maori and disabled audiences, and specialist shows on Cancer, Alcoholism and local Carterton issues.[36] It also broadcasts Democracy Now.

Coast Access FM

Coast Access FM broadcasts on 104.7 MHz in Kapiti and Horowhenua[37]


Market Station Location Frequency
1. Auckland Planet FM Auckland 104.6 FM
2. Waikato Free FM Hamilton 89.0 FM
3. Waikato Free FM Hamilton 106.7 FM
4. Taranaki Access Radio Taranaki New Plymouth 104.4 FM
5. Hawkes Bay Radio Kidnappers Napier 104.7 FM
6. Hawkes Bay Radio Kidnappers Napier 1431 AM
7. Manawatu Access Manawatu Palmerston North 999 AM
8. Wairarapa Arrow FM Masterton 92.7 FM
9. Kapiti Coast Coast Access Radio Waikanae 104.7 FM
10. Wellington Wellington Access Radio Wellington 783 AM
11. Nelson Fresh FM Nelson 95.2 FM
12. Nelson Fresh FM Tasman 104.8 FM
13. Marlborough Fresh FM Blenheim 88.0 FM
14. Canterbury Plains FM Christchurch 96.9 FM
15. Otago Otago Access Radio Dunedin 104.5 FM
16. Otago Otago Access Radio Dunedin 1575 AM
17. Southland Radio Southland Invercargill 96.4 FM


  1. ^ "Association of Community Access Broadcasters, Aotearoa New Zealand". Archived from the original on 2 June 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-06. 
  2. ^ "About NZ On Air".  
  3. ^ "Consultation paper for Community Access Radio and Regional Television funding - April 2008".  
  4. ^ "Association of Community Access Broadcasters, Aotearoa New Zealand". About ACAB. Retrieved 2014-10-16. 
  5. ^ "Standards and Regulations". Think TV. Retrieved 2014-10-14. 
  6. ^ "Broadcasting Act 1989".  
  7. ^ "Consultation paper for Community Access Radio and Regional Television funding - April 2008".  
  8. ^ "Community Access radio".  
  9. ^ Cooper, Tracey (10 September 2011). "Six groups want to broadcast on 89FM". Waikato Times. Retrieved 8 January 2013. 
  10. ^ Cooper, Tracey (27 October 2011). "Hamilton Community Radio wins 89FM". Waikato Times. Retrieved 7 January 2013. 
  11. ^ "Community Access radio".  
  12. ^ Gardner, Chris (1 August 2012). "Listeners from around the world". Waikato Times. Retrieved 2012-08-03. 
  13. ^ "Community Access Wellington". Community Access Wellington. Retrieved 2014-10-14. 
  14. ^ "Plains FM 96.9". Archived from the original on 24 May 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-06. 
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^ NZ Radio Awards, 2010 Winners
  18. ^ NZ Radio Awards Winners
  19. ^ Radio Kidnappers Charitable Trust
  20. ^ About us FAQS
  21. ^ Radio Kidnappers
  22. ^ School debate
  23. ^ Four-party showdown
  24. ^ Selfless workers honoured
  25. ^ "Access Radio Showcase".  
  26. ^ "The Access Radio Story". Access Radio Taranaki. Retrieved 2014-10-21. 
  27. ^ "Funding brings access radio closer to going on air".  
  28. ^ "A true success story".  
  29. ^ "Access Radio Showcase".  
  30. ^ "Radio station to go on the road".  
  31. ^ "FreshFM". Archived from the original on 26 May 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-06. 
  32. ^ "Otago Access Radio". Retrieved 2012-04-04. 
  33. ^ "Less Signal". Otago Access Radio. Retrieved 23 September 2014. 
  34. ^ "Show #31". Retrieved 23 September 2014. 
  35. ^ "Radio Southland 96.4 FM". Archived from the original on 2 June 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-06. 
  36. ^ "arrowfm". Archived from the original on 2 June 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-06. 
  37. ^ "Coast Access Radio 104.9FM". Archived from the original on 26 May 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-06. 
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