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August 5, 2013 | by  | in News |
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VBC You Later

Two-thirds of the way through the year the VBC continues to gather dust, dealing with unpaid tax bills and a lack of external funding as VUWSA continues to track down the legal entity which owns the station.

The Victoria Broadcasting Club (VBC) has existed since 2007, and is owned by the inactive VBC Trust, which is managed by VUWSA. Earlier this year, VUWSA was uncertain what had happened to the Trust. Investigations have since found the Trust has been deregistered, but not dissolved. While legal bills of around $1300 were settled with the Trust’s remaining financial assets, unpaid tax bills remain, meaning the station’s equipment is liable to being seized by the IRD. Salient understands this is unlikely to occur, as it would cost more to do so than what the equipment is worth.

In addition to the tax woes surrounding the station, the VBC is likely to remain ineligible for any funding external to the University. The VBC is funded by VUWSA through the University’s student-media grant, and does not receive NZ On Air funding—the most recent funding round was split between more than 30 radio stations. Rhys Morgan, part-time Station Manager of the VBC, told Salient he had not applied for the funding as “LPFM [low-power] stations don’t get funding as they are not seen to reach a large-enough audience.”

“Larger stations with a larger broadcast [such as Radio Active] get about 100K per year,” said Morgan.

Radio Control, Massey University’s student radio station, received $60,000 in funding from the NZ On Air scheme, while Otago University’s Radio One received $45,000 earlier this year from their students’ association.

In contrast, VUWSA gave the VBC $30,000 in funding in 2012, which covered one part-time manager and broadcasting fees.

A University spokesperson said that the University contracted student-media funding to VUWSA, who took responsibility for “reporting requirements… [which] reflect those in the Ministerial Directive on Compulsory Student Fees”. University funding for student media comes from the Student Services Levy, which is paid by every student studying 25 points or more at Victoria.

The Ministerial Directive on Compulsory Student Service Fees for 2013 allows universities to charge student-services levies—$676 per domestic student at Victoria in 2013—for media on the basis that the University “[supports] the production and dissemination of information by students to students, including newspapers, radio, television and internet-based media.”

Yet according to Morgan, the VBC is “limping” and unable to fulfil its role as a student radio station, as the annual grant does not cover staff training or equipment upgrades.

“Apart from me getting paid, nothing is being invested in the station… The receptionist [at VUWSA] won’t even play us.”

VUWSA President Rory McCourt has previously said that VUWSA “need[s] a strategic focus first” before investing further in the VBC.

“VUWSA is always looking for ways to grow advertising and revenue for student media, while also ensuring a focus on its main purpose: delivering informative, insightful and entertaining media content for Vic students,” said McCourt.

“The Executive has no plans to alter the funding of the VBC.”

The largest simultaneous online audience the station has achieved in the past year was 33 listeners. Due to the University’s internet restrictions, the station cannot be streamed on campus.

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