Key Points:

Veteran broadcasters Larry Summerville and Bernie Brown are busting into the Cosy Club of Two that controls New Zealand commercial radio.

Their new Auckland community station BIG FM launches in early November on 106.2 FM with 10-year community radio rights sold by the government.

The new independent is up against the big boys in the competitive Auckland radio market.

MediaWorks - which owns TV3 and C4 - and TRN which is half-owned by New Zealand Herald owner APN - were ruled out from bidding for frequencies to ensure the survival of local radio.

Without corporate competition BIG FM was able to pick up the Auckland 106.2 FM frequency for a relatively modest $800,000. The two corporates had paid nearly $6 million for 20-year rights to similar frequencies in Auckland.

Other community station frequencies off-limits to the big boys have been allocated in other cities. But the toughest test for the government plan will be how BIG FM survives in Auckland.

Summerville - who founded More FM in Auckland - is confident its underdog station will come out barking loudest.

The new station cannot be networked and will be required to have a local focus and he says that will set it apart from the competitors. But the corporates insist there is a local element to some of the corporate stations.

The new station will live or die on sales in a tough economic climate while both MediaWorks and TRN are linked to combined sales operation The Radio Bureau. But Summerville says BIG FM will not be. It will be buying in news from TRN but remain independent.

It will interesting to see how the Big Boys will compete against the new station outside the duopoly they control.

BIG FM will be an associate member of the Radio Broadcasters Association, the radio industry lobby group made up of TRN and MediaWorks. The RBA lobbied extensively to prevent the creation of the community stations concept arguing that they could provide local radio and should not be shut out.

Summerville and Brown will need industry smarts. It may be called BIG but it is a tiny minnow in a very rough sea.


Fairfax Media is expected to name the new managing editor for its Sunday newspaper titles this weekend. Two names under discussion included Sunday News editor Chris Baldock and Waikato Times editor Bryce Johns.

But another name mentioned is Mitchell Murphy, currently managing editor of Fairfax's Brisbane news site, the Brisbane Times. It is not clear where this would leave Baldock.

One scenario sees him remain in charge of the Sunday News but be appointed deputy, overseeing both titles with Mitchell getting the top job. Coinciding with the new structure, Sunday Star Times editor Cate Honore Brett had resigned to take a new role with an information role for the Justice Department.

Longtime deputy editor Donna Chisholm resigned last week to take on a new role as an editor at large on ACP current affairs titles Metro and North and South magazines. More big changes are expected at the Sunday Star Times and in the structure of Fairfax editorial operations.


A Fairfax profile describes Murphy as "Proud to be a born-and-bred Brisbane boy" who had been a finalist in the Queensland Young Achievers Awards. He was then approached to join APN News and Media at the Morning Bulletin in Rockhampton filling both sports editor and chief of staff roles.

Mitchell was WIN Television chief rugby league commentator of North Queensland Cowboys home games while in the regional centre of Rockhampton. He served as editor of daily regional papers around Queensland including Ipswich and Toowoomba.

He joined Fairfax in September 2002 as editor-in-chief of the Illawarra Mercury which the website describes as "an influential daily newspaper based at Wollongong, New South Wales."


SkyCity Cinemas boss Jane Hastings is believed to have secured a commitment that the parent company will keep the cinema operation for at least two years before considering a sale, as part of her deal to run the show. Given the state of the world economy and credit, a sale looks highly unlikely.

There will be no taste to re-enter the fray at SkyCity after the debacle over the failure to sign a deal with Reading Cinemas despite a $60 million 50 per cent writeoff in the cinemas' valuations.

But caution is understandable from Hastings who was a high-flyer in the SkyCity corporate management team and who is new to the movie business. SkyCity has a 55 per cent share of the Auckland market, but the cinema sector faces a lot of challenges like all entertainment businesses, fighting for discretionary spend.

National Business Review owner Barry Colman has been taking an interest in the day to day operations of the NBR website and editorial content. Famously sceptical about online advertising revenue in the past Colman is said to have become a passionate advocate for online.

And at NBR when Barrie is passionate, the staff are too. Longtime editor Nevil Gibson has taken a bigger role producing the hard copy newspaper and overseas sponsorship.

Among new writers are Chris Keall, a former editor of PC World. Gibson said hit rates for the site had shown good growth, though veteran media buyer Martin Gillman - a strong supporter of the NBR brand - thought the website was yet to prove its value.

Colman is one of the last remaining media independents and has been a sly custodian for the NBR brand. His focus on online coincided with a renewed interest in editorial content, an approach that has not always been fruitful in the past.

A former newspaper reporter, Coleman made his name in Hamilton where he made a fortune creating the Property Press. Past editorial excursions have been erratic and sometimes - as with the NBR campaign to oppose Dick Hubbard's attempt at the Auckland mayoralty, ill-fated.


The joys of the new media. The column reported last week that Martin Hirst - who heads the journalism curriculum at AUT - had divided opinions among academic staff at the AUT.

Hirst was en-route between New York and London where he is studying and was able to keep his old workmates up to date when he was stopped by US Immigration officials at JFK Airport, he says because his name and details clashed with a terror suspect and he was on the US government Watch List.

The academic - who has been studying in London - reported the incident on his blog, noting that he was no terrorist but did consider himself to be a threat to the US in his own quiet little way, saying he did not like the American government very much and did not hide his views and his search was part of a process for intimidation."


TVNZ, TV3 and Sky Television are still in a joint negotiations for the television rights to the 2011 Rugby World Cup. While most of the talks are at the International Rugby Board they are still occurring in this country.

Industry sources said that the joint proposal would likely include some games appearing on pay TV. While organisers for the Olympics were intent on maintaining free-to-air coverage, an industry player said that the IRB was focused purely on maximising returns.


Decisions on a new chief executive for the New Zealand Film Commission are on hold pending the general election. Ruth Harley resigned recently to take up a role with a new film body in Australia, ending a period when the commission - and television arts generally - has developed a close relationship with Labour.

But National Party arts spokesman Chris Finlayson dismisses the perception that Labour has been a great friends to the arts sector and says film and the arts did more to help the Labour Party brand than it did to help the arts overall.

Finlayson, who has a background in the arts, has announced that he wants a review of the Film Commission Act, which is more than 30 years old and underlies the non-Peter Jackson film industry.