Fund­ing ap­peal fails

Manawatu Standard - - News - Alex Loo

The Ra­dio Read­ing Ser­vice could close at the end of next month, after a last-ditch plea to the broad­cast­ing min­is­ter failed.

In a fi­nal at­tempt to save the ser­vice’s fund­ing, Ra­dio Read­ing Ser­vice founder Allen Lit­tle wrote to Broad­cast­ing Min­is­ter Kris Faafoi, in an ap­peal to change NZ On Air’s de­ci­sion to cut the sta­tion’s fund­ing of $110,348 a year.

The Levin-based sta­tion pro­vides news and en­ter­tain­ment to the print-dis­abled com­mu­nity. A print-dis­abled per­son is any­one who can­not see, hold, un­der­stand or ac­cess printed lit­er­a­ture.

In a let­ter to Lit­tle, Faafoi said he was un­able to in­ter­vene in NZ On Air’s fund­ing de­ci­sions. The let­ter ex­plained NZ On Air funds sev­eral ser­vices for the dis­abled com­mu­nity, in­clud­ing ac­cess ra­dio sta­tions and au­dio de­scrip­tions of screen con­tent.

He said the de­ci­sion to cut fund­ing was a ‘‘not one [NZ On Air] un­der­took lightly’’, but there were more ser­vices than ever com­pet­ing for money.

The ser­vice has found an­other sig­nif­i­cant source of fund­ing and chair­man Tom Frewen said a de­ci­sion would be made on the sta­tion’s fu­ture by mid-fe­bru­ary.

If grant ap­pli­ca­tions are un­suc­cess­ful, it will likely close at the end of the month.

Frewen was unim­pressed by Faafoi’s re­sponse be­cause he be­lieves dis­abil­ity groups are not catered for by NZ On Air and it is not meet­ing its obli­ga­tion to the dis­abled com­mu­nity.

‘‘[Faafoi’s] de­fence of NZ On Air rests on its fund­ing for cap­tion­ing and au­dio de­scrip­tions on tele­vi­sion and fund­ing for ac­cess ra­dio, which caters for a wide range of cul­tural, eth­nic and other mi­nori­ties, but not specif­i­cally dis­abled groups.’’

Faafoi said NZ On Air was ‘‘ful­fill­ing its le­gal obli­ga­tions ... I would like to re­as­sure the vis­ually im­paired com­mu­nity that I recog­nise their need, and the need of oth­ers with a dis­abil­ity, to ac­cess con­tent.’’

NZ On Air spokes­woman Al­lanah Kalafatelis said there are now a wider range of ac­ces­si­bil­ity ser­vices avail­able to the dis­abled com­mu­nity, and the Ra­dio Read­ing Ser­vice’s small au­di­ence made jus­ti­fy­ing fund­ing dif­fi­cult.

DAVID UN­WIN/ STUFF

Ra­dio Read­ing Ser­vice chair­man Tom Frewen will have to make a de­ci­sion about the ser­vice’s fu­ture next month.

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