Maori trusts led by RadioLive hosts Willie Jackson and John Tamihere are big winners from a radio deal to take over dance music station George FM.
Corporate bosses are moving in on Auckland alternative media with TV3 owners MediaWorks buying George FM, delivering a big boost to Maori owners of the frequencies.
MediaWorks chief executive Brent Impey told George FM staff yesterday that the company - owned by Australian private equity firm Ironbridge - would keep the George FM format for urban dance music.
He said George FM had a proud tradition. "George FM complements many of our key radio brands, including Mai FM, The Edge, The Rock and More FM 96.4," said Mr Impey.
The deal is a big financial boon for MediaWorks and for Maori owners who were allocated the frequency by the Crown to meet Treaty of Waitangi cultural obligations.
MediaWorks will control a multi-million dollar FM 96.4 frequency under a three-year deal with the Manukau Urban Maori Authority and the Waipareira Trust, bodies headed by MediaWorks RadioLive hosts Willie Jackson and John Tamihere.
As with a deal in February last year when MediaWorks bought Mai FM under an arrangement with Ngati Whatua, MediaWorks can earn commercial revenue if they keep commitments to minimal Maori content.
Authority chief executive Willie Jackson said there there was a strong relationship between the urban Maori authorities and MediaWorks.
He said that he and Tamihere were comfortable with the relationship in which George FM has run Maori content after midnight, and uses cash from MediaWorks to bolster urban Maori social programmes.
The pair did not seek any additional Maori content, saying that this was already being achieved by its talk station Radio Waatea.
Jackson - who would not say how much MediaWorks paid for three-year rights to use the George FM frequency - said yesterday that George FM had faced a difficult period over the past year.
He declined to say how much the trusts had received.