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Broadcasting licences

Who does this licence apply to?

Persons or other legal entities that own and operate a radio broadcast station in the AM or FM broadcast bands; or a television broadcast station in the UHF television broadcast band.

To help you decide if you need a broadcasting licence please see our Radio and television broadcasting interactive guide.


Commercial sound broadcasting


To get a Spectrum Licence to transmit a broadcasting service in the MF-AM or VHF-FM bands, you need to contact an Approved Radio Engineer (ARE) who will apply for the licence on your behalf.

Once your ARE has applied for the licence, we will call for expressions of interest on those licences. Licence(s) that are contested by more than one party will be allocated competitively. This is usually by auction.

You will need to pay licence fees and engineering certification fees.



Non-commercial sound broadcasting

Policy on non-commercial broadcasting, including NZ On Air, is the responsibility of the Ministry for Culture and Heritage (MCH). The licences allocated by Government for non-commercial allocation are generally utilised, but all enquiries should be directed to the MCH. They are responsible to ensure that an application for a non-commercial licence fulfils the criteria for non-commercial radio before it is granted. The Broadcasting Standards Authority comes under the umbrella of the MCH.

Māori broadcasting, including Te Māngai Pāho (Māori Broadcasting Funding Agency) is the responsibility of Te Puni Kōkiri (Ministry of Māori Development).

To obtain a non-commercial broadcasting licence you should contact an approved radio engineer to apply for the licence on your behalf.
For applicable licence fees refer to the fees schedule.

Applicants should note that applications for non-commercial broadcasting licences will follow a consultation process with the relevant government department as specified above, and licences are only granted upon approval from the relevant government department.

Ministry for Culture and Heritage 

NZ On Air

Te Māngai Pāho (Māori Broadcasting Funding Agency)

Te Puni Kōkiri (Ministry of Māori Development)


Local commercial FM broadcasting

A number of licences were allocated for local commercial broadcasting in 2008. Up to two licences were allocated in each main population centre where it was technically possible to create such licences. The licences have an effective duration of 10 years (i.e. until 2018). No further licences of this nature are currently envisaged.

The policy requirements for these licences are consistent with the features of the Regional and Community Broadcasting Policy Framework. Specifically, within this Framework, the promotion of local broadcasting services covers:

  1. broadcasters are supported to reflect and develop regional and local character and identity, and to maintain a sense of local mission and place amidst the global broadcasting environment;
  2. coverage of regional and local news, current affairs, information, sport and cultural events is supported;
  3. broadcasting is used to enhance democratic and civic participation among regional and local populations;
  4. broadcasters have a strong and ongoing local physical presence and involvement;
  5. there is licensing for local and regional commercial broadcasters owned and operated independently from national networks.

All broadcasters operating a local commercial FM broadcasting licence must comply with the following:

Regional and Community Broadcasting Policy Framework


Low Power FM Radio stations

Radio transmitters intended for local-area broadcasting and known as "Lower Power FM Broadcasting Short Range Devices", or LPFM Broadcast, can operate under a General User Radio Licence (GURL).

Information on Low Power FM Broadcasting is contained in the GURL

GURL users must ensure that they operate in accordance with the terms, conditions and restrictions of the LPFM notice.

Furthermore GURL users should ensure that if they play music, they hold the correct licence from the copyright holders. A specific licence for LPFM broadcasting can be obtained from OneMusic (which offers licences on behalf on behalf of APRA and Recorded Music NZ).


Television Broadcasting

Television broadcasting operates using digital technology in the UHF frequency bands. In addition, a complementary satellite service is operated by Kordia Ltd (Sky TV also operate a satellite Pay TV service). Multiple programmes can be broadcast simultaneously on a licence and parties wishing to broadcast programming are able to conclude arrangements to access terrestrial or satellite transmission capacity on an existing licence or network without reference to the Ministry.

The terrestrial frequency plan supports 11 networks, each able to provide coverage of up to 87 percent of the population. Terrestrial network licences that are used as a part of the Freeview platform are currently held by Television New Zealand, Mediaworks Television, World TV Ltd, and Kordia Ltd/Johnston Dick and Associates (JDA). Regional programming is possible on the licences operated by Kordia and JDA Ltd. Spectrum has also been provided such that the Maori Television Service has a set of terrestrial licences. In addition Sky TV operates a network for their Igloo Pay TV service which uses a more advanced technology which is incompatible with existing household receivers. Full details of specific licences are recorded in the Register of Radio Frequencies (Use “Search Licences” with “DTV” as a channel prefix).

From a technical perspective each of the above networks utilises two radio frequency channels, with one channel being used at a main coverage site and the other being used at an associated site providing infill coverage as required. Allocation of any further technically possible licences by the Ministry requires Government approval.

Enquiries should be sent to radio.spectrum@mbie.govt.nz.




Last updated 20 March 2018