Regulating for New Zealand music quotas on radio is still an option if a voluntary code falters, Broadcasting Minister Marian Hobbs says.

The code, launched today, will see radio stations playing on average 20 per cent New Zealand music by 2006.

New Zealand music is applied to all music performed by artists normally registered as New Zealanders, including people performing in Australia and other countries.


It will also include non-New Zealand born artists who could reasonably be described as New Zealand based and whose music is played regularly in New Zealand.

Radio Broadcasters Association (RBA) executive director David Innes said today the code was being adopted after a discussion document issued by Ms Hobbs last August made clear she would consider regulation if the industry did not act.

"So it isn't quite a gun at the head but it is certainly strong encouragement."

Mr Innes said on National Radio that broadcasters had been collaborating with others in the music industry to increase the New Zealand music content on radio and the amount had doubled over the past five years.

"What the minister has said is 'I challenge you guys to grow it faster'."

Ms Hobbs today congratulated commercial radio on the code, which she said had taken two years of negotiations to get agreement on.

Regulation for mandatory quota was "still an option if the momentum falters but I am greatly encouraged by the key elements that have been agreed as part of the code", she said in a statement.

These included the establishment of a New Zealand music performance committee to monitor the code with representatives from the RBA, Music Industry Commission, New Zealand on Air, the Musicians' Union and the recording industry.

The code would be monitored with quarterly reports to the minister and the RBA.

Ms Hobbs said on National Radio today that RBA member stations -- about 90 per cent of radio stations -- had agreed to play an average 20 per cent New Zealand music by 2006.

Different radio stations would play different amounts of New Zealand music depending on the genre, she said.

Commercial radio stations would be playing about 13 per cent New Zealand music by the end of this year and 20 per cent by 2006, she said.

Classic Hits was currently playing about 12 per cent New Zealand music, but had agreed to play 24 per cent by 2006.

Rock stations were already playing 20 per cent New Zealand music and would play 25 per cent by 2006.

Urban radio stations, in Auckland, and adult stations such as The Breeze, easy listening radio stations and More FM were only playing about 6 per cent but would aim to reach 12 per cent.

"It's my intention to really try and encourage the adult and the pop (stations) which hit the largest number of listeners."

Mr Innes believed there were particular genres where there was not enough New Zealand music produced.

"If the music comes forward, it gets played and succeeds but there are definitely some gaps in areas such as ... the softer pop areas and easy listening which are at quite low levels of kiwi content," he said.

Ms Hobbs said the New Zealand music industry needed to be supported. The quotas were about encouraging people to buy records and help musicians succeed here and overseas.

She said the industry had agreed to the quota after the Government moved on other issues, including those relating to spectrum.

National broadcasting spokeswoman Katherine Rich said Ms Hobbs' "veiled threats" to broadcasters and the imposition of a quota as a consequence could harm New Zealand trade.

Music quotas were against World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules and the quota, as a result of Government pressure, could be open to challenge through the WTO, she said.

A spokesman for Ms Hobbs told NZPA last August that the minister was aware of claims a New Zealand music quota could breach WTO rules, but the Government believed it could avoid this.

The spokesman told NZPA today those comments still applied.