Radio New Zealand - FM frequency request

James Sergeant made this Official Information request to Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Response to this request is long overdue. By law Ministry for Culture and Heritage should have responded by now (details and exceptions). You can complain to the Ombudsman.

From: James Sergeant

Dear Ministry for Culture and Heritage,

This is a request for information under the Official Information Act. Please could you supply me with details of any correspondence or other communication between Radio New Zealand and the Ministry for Culture and Heritage relating to the possible acquisition of a new FM frequency for radio services. This request can be limited to the period from 1 January 2019.

Yours faithfully,

James Sergeant

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From: OIA
Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Kia Ora James -

Thanks for your email.

I note you also requested the following:

"This is a request under the Official Information Act for any communications between the Ministry of Culture and Heritage and Radio New Zealand during the calendar year 2019 about the possibility of Radio New Zealand acquiring an additional FM frequency to use for radio services."

Can you please confirm which timeframe you are interested in?

Kind regards,

Ministerial Services
Manatū Taonga | Ministry for Culture & Heritage
He ngākau titikaha, he hononga tangata
Promoting a confident and connected culture
Public Trust Building, 131 Lambton Quay, Wellington
PO Box 5364, Wellington 6140
Ph +64 4 499 4229

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From: James Sergeant

Dear OIA,

Thank you for your follow up email. I am sorry for the confusion caused by submitting two similar requests - that was a technical error!

To clarify, the period I am interested in is the year from 1 January 2019 to 31 December 2019.

Yours sincerely,

James Sergeant

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From: OIA
Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Thank you for clarifying.

As it stands, the Ministry would be required to search through a substantial amount of material, i.e each email between RNZ and MCH to find any relevant material. For reference, there is likely to be many terms that are used to describe the topic you are interested in, so it is not possible to simply search for one phrase. It is likely that this request may be refused as the information cannot be made available without substantial collation and research. To restate, this is not because of the amount of material on this topic, rather the amount of material that needs to be searched through in order to find any relevant documentation.

With this in mind, is there any way you can refine your request so as to remove the reason for refusal? This could include making a smaller timeframe, or limiting your request to only include communications between senior officials, such as the Chief Executive, or Board members?

We look forward to hearing from you as soon as possible.

Kind regards,

Ministerial Services
Manatū Taonga | Ministry for Culture & Heritage He ngākau titikaha, he hononga tangata Promoting a confident and connected culture Public Trust Building, 131 Lambton Quay, Wellington PO Box 5364, Wellington 6140 Ph +64 4 499 4229

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From: James Sergeant

Dear OIA,
Thank you for your request for clarification. I understand the need to minimise the amount of searching through records. To help clarify, my request follows this report on the NZ Herald website on 13 February 2020:

"But, speaking to MPs at a select committee this morning, both [Paul] Thompson and RNZ chairman Jim Mather said the broadcaster was told by officials midway through last year that there was little chance it would be able to use the 102 FM frequency for its planned youth radio channel.

Thompson said he was told by officials that it would be "very difficult to be able to gain access to the frequency, and to the funding required to support it".

"Therefore, we went on to develop our proposal as it was presented last week."

He confirmed that RNZ never explicitly asked for the 102 FM frequency; only that the broadcaster got the sense it was not a possibility."

Given the report above, I am content to limit the request to any communications or reports of communications from Ministry officials to Paul Thompson at Radio New Zealand about the availability of radio frequencies and to limit the time period to 1 May to 31 August 2019 (which should cover 'midway through last year').

Yours sincerely,

James Sergeant

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From: OIA
Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Kia Ora -

I write regarding your request for information relating to RNZ. For reference, your request is repeated below in the email chain below.

The Ministry will not be able to respond within the timeframes as set out in the OIA as:

• The request necessitates a search through a large quantity of information and meeting the original time limit would unreasonably interfere with the operations of the Ministry; and
• Consultations necessary to make a decision on the request are such that a proper response to the request cannot reasonably be made within the original time limit.

The Ministry will communicate a decision on your request no later than April 28 2020, earlier if possible. You have the right, under section 28(3) of the OIA, to make a complaint to an Ombudsman.

Kind regards,
Ministerial Services
Manatū Taonga | Ministry for Culture & Heritage
He ngākau titikaha, he hononga tangata
Promoting a confident and connected culture
Public Trust Building, 131 Lambton Quay, Wellington
PO Box 5364, Wellington 6140
Ph +64 4 499 4229

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From: OIA
Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Dear Mr Sergeant

I refer to your request received on 14 February 2020, and extended on 11 March, which has now been considered under the Official Information Act 1982 (OIA), for the following information:

Any communications or reports of communications from Ministry officials to Paul Thompson at Radio New Zealand about the availability of radio frequencies and to limit the time period to 1 May to 31 August 2019 (which should cover 'midway through last year').

This email is to advise that a decision has been made in accordance with the OIA. The information in scope of your request will be provided to you after being administratively processed. This is taking longer than anticipated due to government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Some material has been withheld in accordance with section 9 of the OIA. In these cases, any public interest has been considered as per section 9(1) of the OIA.

If you wish to discuss this decision, please feel free to contact [email address].

You have the right to seek an investigation and review by the Ombudsman of this decision. Information about how to make a complaint is available at www.ombudsman.parliament.nz or freephone 0800 802 602.

Yours sincerely

Ministerial Services
Manatū Taonga | Ministry for Culture & Heritage He ngākau titikaha, he hononga tangata Promoting a confident and connected culture Public Trust Building, 131 Lambton Quay, Wellington PO Box 5364, Wellington 6140 Ph +64 4 499 4229

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From: James Sergeant

Dear OIA,

Thank you for your letter of 28 April letting me know that a decision had been made about my OIA request of 14 February.

It is now two weeks since the decision was made and the information requested has still not been supplied to me, though I note that Radio New Zealand has now released a batch of information covering much of the same ground.

Public authorities are under an obligation to release information without undue delay, once a decision has been made. Consequently, if I have still not received anything by close of business on Tuesday 19 May, I will refer this request to the Ombudsman for consideration.

Yours sincerely,

James Sergeant

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From: OIA
Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Kia Ora -

Thank you for your email and your ongoing patience. The administrative processing of requests is taking long than usual due the Governments response to COVID-19. In any case however, we understand that the processing of your request is causing frustration. Please know that the Ministry is working as quickly as possible to provide requested material to you as soon as it can and without undue delay. As previously noted - you do have the right to seek an investigation and review by the Ombudsman of this decision.

We will be in contact as soon as possible with any updates.

Thanks again

Ministerial Services
Manatū Taonga | Ministry for Culture & Heritage He ngākau titikaha, he hononga tangata Promoting a confident and connected culture Public Trust Building, 131 Lambton Quay, Wellington PO Box 5364, Wellington 6140 Ph +64 4 499 4229

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James Sergeant left an annotation ()

Complaint now lodged with the Ombudsman.

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From: Keegan Platten
Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Kia Ora Mr Sergeant -

I refer to the communication below. I understand you have been in contact with the Office of the Ombudsman relating to the decision on your request. Further to this communication, I can advise that material has been withheld under the following sections of the OIA:
• 9(2)(a) to protect the privacy of natural persons. This material relates to phone numbers.
• 9(2)(ba)(i) to protect information which is subject to an obligation of confidence or which any person has been or could be compelled to provide under the authority of any enactment, where the making available of the information would be likely to prejudice the supply of similar information, or information from the same source, and it is in the public interest that such information should continue to be supplied.
• 9(2)(b)(ii) to protect information where the making available of the information would be likely unreasonably to prejudice the commercial position of the person who supplied or who is the subject of the information. This material relates to budget discussions that were communicated in confidence and that, if released, would likely prejudice the subject of the information.
• 9(2)(f)(iv) to maintain the constitutional conventions for the time being which protect the confidentiality of advice tendered by Ministers of the Crown and officials. This relates to material communicated between officials, which if released, would be likely to prejudice decisions that are yet to be made.
• 9(2)(k) to prevent the disclosure or use of official information for improper gain or improper advantage. This relates to an email address that, if emailed, would send a message to all Radio New Zealand staff.

This material covers email communications as well as letters. Some material is also removed as it is note within scope of the request.

You may also be interested to know that formal advice the Ministry for Culture and Heritage has provided to the Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media will be proactively release on the Ministry’s website shortly.

The ministry appreciates your ongoing patience as we work to process this request. As mentioned, it has taken longer than anticipated due to the Government response to the COVID-19 pandemic. I can assure you that the material is very close to being provided to you.

We look forward to being in contact again to provide the information requested to you via FYI.

Kind regards,

Ministerial Services
Manatū Taonga | Ministry for Culture & Heritage He ngākau titikaha, he hononga tangata Promoting a confident and connected culture Public Trust Building, 131 Lambton Quay, Wellington PO Box 5364, Wellington 6140 Ph +64 4 499 4229

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Things to do with this request

Anyone:
Ministry for Culture and Heritage only: