Christians around New Zealand are being asked to rally around Rhema Broadcasting Group, which faces losing radio frequencies across the country by October 1.
The network of radio stations needs to raise $6.4m over and above normal operating costs, to renew the majority of its commercial radio frequency licences for the next 20 years.
If it fails to do so, some radio frequencies will have to be returned to the Crown and then sold at auction.
The group hosts Southern Star, Radio Rhema and Life fm around New Zealand, targeting all ages to spread Christian messages and play New Zealand music.
Chief executive officer John Fabrin says the group broadcasts thanks to donations from throughout New Zealand.
But further support is needed to secure the frequencies.
A nationwide Colmar Brunton survey of Life fm listeners this year, commissioned by the group, found tens of thousands of people had made positive changes to their lives listening to the teachings of the radio station.
The survey showed listeners’ psychological and emotional health was positively impacted, for example 11,000 were inspired to stop self-harming behaviours.
A further 19,000 people said it helped deal with addictions such as drugs, alcohol, gambling and pornography, 5000 reduced their illegal drug consumption and 6000 reduced or stopped smoking and/or drinking.
The reports also found about 52,000 people were moved to help those less fortunate than themselves in New Zealand.
One listener told the station: “I was about to overdose, and I decided that I wanted my life to end with some epic background music so I flicked on the radio, and the words that I heard were ‘don’t you know, don’t you know that you’re beautiful – and here I am, alive.’
So thanks Life fm.”
Life FM targets a youth audience and has a listenership of 80,800 a month.
RBG also hosts Radio Rhema and Southern Star which target older audiences.
It also publishes free copies of ‘The Word for Today’ quarterly.
Each edition contains daily devotionals for Christians with editions for both youth and older audiences to inspire them to live a Christian lifestyle.
The group relies on supporters’ donations for 75% of its income, with the other 25% coming mainly from advertising.
The tight deadline has pressured the company to find more funding in a small timeframe.
In 2003 the then Labour government announced its intention to renew radio frequency licenses, but it was not until 2006 that the Crown and Rhema agreed on a value for relicensing.
After negotiating with the Crown, Rhema is now considered a special case due to its being a not-for-profit organisation.
The Crown has acknowledged an effort should be made to provide relief for the broadcaster, however, no workable solution has been found.
The group started publicly appealing for funding in July 2010 by alerting Christian churches around the country.
New Zealand celebrity Simon Barnett appeared in a video watched by churches and internet viewers and says, “the power of radio, it’s just such a personal thing” and encourages people to donate.
Donations can be made via the website http://2030vision.org.nz/index.html.
View the video featuring Simon Barnett below: