SHARE

STAFF REPORTERS

Radio New Zealand’s (RNZ) AM frequencies until the end of the month before it closes its two remaining transmitters.

The closure will mean listeners will have to switch to an FM frequency to listen to RNZ National or choose an alternative way of tuning in from the end of March.

The frequencies in Central Otago that will be affected are 639AM in Alexandra and Cromwell and 1134AM in Queenstown and Arrowtown.

Spokesman John Barr said several alternatives were available and most listeners would be able to re-tune to receive an FM signal.

Options include tuning into 101.5FM in Alexandra and Cromwell and 101.6FM in Queenstown and Arrowtown.

However, some listeners could be outside the overlapping FM coverage and would need to select a different option if they wanted to continue to receive RNZ National.

“RNZ estimates between 200 to 300 existing listeners may be in this situation and many of those will already [be] using the alternative platforms to receive RNZ National.”

Mr Barr said changes were being made because the existing transmitters were old and increasingly expensive to maintain.

“Listnership on AM radio is declining in favour of new technologies and there are now many alternative ways of listening to live radio, including on existing FM radio frequencies, via digital platforms and on mobile devices.”

RNZ has discussed the proposed changes to AM broadcasts with the Ministry of Civil Defence and emergency management – at both national and local levels – to ensure there are no issues with the broadcaster’s role in the event of an emergency.

“Civil defence information is now carried on a wide range of platforms and RNZ is no longer reliant on AM transmission for the delivery of emergency messages to New Zealanders.”

He said the changes would be explained to affected residents via a mailbox drop, including rural properties.

“It is important for RNZ to ensure all affected listeners will be aware of the pending change and have time to make alternative arrangements.”