Australian Radio Network - New Zealand

New Zealand

Radio Network (TRN) is the New Zealand division of the ARN. It operates eight nationwide networks, over 100 radio stations and the twenty-four hour Newstalk ZB News service. Its networks include News & Talk network Newstalk ZB, Classic Hits network Classic Hits FM, Contemporary Hit Radio network ZM, Sports Radio network Radio Sport, Rock network Radio Hauraki, Easy listening network Easy Mix, hip hop and R&B network Flava and 1950s, 1960s and 1970s network Coast. It also operates Gore-based station Hokonui Gold through a lease agreement with the station's owners.

The network was created in 1996 when the commercial radio activities of Radio New Zealand were divested by the Fourth National government as part of the Ruthanasia free market economic policies of that government. Radio New Zealand Commercial, which included talk networks Newstalk ZB and Radio Sport and music networks Classic Hits and ZM, became privately owned and was renamed to The Radio Network.

In the same year the newly created TRN purchased Prospect Media Limited. This included eleven Auckland and Hamilton stations. The Commerce Commission ruled that as part of the take over of Prospect Media, The Radio Network was to on sell or dispose of some stations to prevent the company having a dominant position in Auckland and Hamilton. The Radio Network chose to keep the brands of Auckland's Radio Hauraki and Easy Listening i as is but were later launched as nationwide networks. The other stations Kool 93 in Auckland and Country FM in both Auckland and Hamilton were closed down. The Kool 93 frequency was purchased by Energy Enterprises and used to start Solid Gold FM and the Country FM frequency was sold to the More FM Group and used to start Channel Z in Auckland. In Hamilton Radio Hauraki was dropped with the frequency being taken over by Radio Pacific but Hauraki returned to Hamilton years later. Easy Listening i was retained in Hamilton but later dropped and replaced with Newstalk ZB. Country FM was dropped in Hamilton with the frequency sold to the Rhema Group and used to network Life FM into Hamilton. Auckland's The Breeze on 91 and Hamilton's The Breeze on 89.8 were closed down and a new ZM station was started in Auckland with the programming networked to Hamilton.

The network was bought out by a syndicate that included The New Zealand Herald and New Zealand Listener publisher Wilson & Horton and United States radio company Clear Channel Communications. Wilson & Horton was then purchased by Ireland-based media conglomerate Independent News & Media, and onsold to Independent's Australian subsidiary APN. The Radio Network became an APN and Clear Channel networked commercial radio joint venture, like the Australian Radio Network already was; as a result TRN became part of ARN.

Since 2005 Radio Network has networked all its stations under its eight network brands. Stations may have local idents, advertisements, weather forecasts, promotion events, traffic updates, news bulletins and commentary features. However, aside from local breakouts for breakfast, morning or special event programmes, stations exclusively carry network programming produced from studios at Radio Network on Cook St in Auckland Central.

The move towards the eight nationwide networks took several years, but a number of changes occurred between 1998 and 2005 which lead to the current networks. Hawkes Bay's Classic Rock 96FM was replaced with Radio Hauraki in 1998, which was later replaced with ZM in 1999 now networked from Auckland. Also in Manawatu Q91 Classic Rock was replaced with ZM initially networked from Wellington. The Community Radio Network was established in 1998, with all local stations one off stations having local content outside breakfast replaced with a network feed from Taupo, at the same time Classic Hits FM replaced local programming outside breakfast with networked programming from Auckland. Later all Community Network stations were replaced with Classic Hits FM with all programming on these stations outside breakfast now originating from Auckland, Newstalk ZB was also expanded into these markets at the same time. In 2000 ZM switched their network programming to a single feed for Invercargill and Dunedin this meant programming was now networked from Auckland instead of Christchurch and in Palmerston North programming was networked from Auckland instead of Wellington. A year later ZM closed their Christchurch studio and Wellington's successful breakfast show became the new nationwide breakfast show. Auckland's Cool Blue 96.1FM was started in 2001 but was replaced with the first Flava station in 2004; Cool Blue became an independently operated internet-only station. Easy Listening i was rebranded as Viva FM in 2005 and then as Easy Mix in August 2007. Hawkes Bay's Gold 1530 was purchased by Radio Network in 2000 and re-branded as JO 1530 (Jammin Oldies) and in 2002 as the first Coast station, Coast was later moved to Auckland networked across the whole country. Nelson's The Planet 97FM was purchased by TRN in 2002 and was replaced with ZM in 2004.

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