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Independent student-owned Dunedin station Radio One will go off the air for a week from today as staff protest a proposal the station be sold.
The existence of an independent radio station was crucial to Dunedin being a viable option for local and visiting artists, station manager Sean Norling said yesterday.
"Dunedin would lose its most established alternative radio station."
The owner, the Otago University Students Association (OUSA), confirmed yesterday it might sell the station to save money. It has been reviewing all its services ahead of the likely introduction of legislation which will end compulsory membership of student bodies.
It has been predicted revenue for all associations may drop by as much as 90% virtually overnight from January next year if the legislation is passed.
Radio One had six paid employees and 70 volunteers, Mr Norling said.
The demise of Radio One could set off a devastating set of dominoes, he said.
"It is bigger than just Dunedin. There is a network of stations around the country that depend on Radio One's existence to remain stable. [They] would all be jeopardised, which is a big body blow."
In May, OUSA commissioned Deloitte, a professional services organisation, to review its services and structure to prepare for an decreased revenue stream.
"With the potential threat of voluntary student membership coming in, OUSA needs to be as efficient as possible and we need to tighten our belts where we can," OUSA president Logan Edgar said yesterday.
Radio One was the only OUSA asset under threat at present, he said, but a restructuring of the whole organisation was being undertaken and other services and assets could come up for review.
OUSA needed to consider how to reinvest student money in the most appropriate ways and Deloitte saw little commercial value in Radio One, he said.
A student survey last year also revealed Radio One as one of the least valued OUSA assets, Mr Edgar said.
The proposal would now go through a submissions phase and Radio One staff would have the opportunity to have their say. A decision was likely to be made before the end of the year.
Because the station had a non-profit licence, Mr Norling said he believed it would have "little commercial appeal" and a sale was unlikely.
- Rebecca Ryan