Prime Minister M. J. Savage on Radio Advertising

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Prime Minister Michael Joseph Savage came to power with the first Labour government in 1935. He was enthusiastic about the new medium of radio, seeing it as a way to communicate his party's messages directly to the New Zealand people, without the intervention of (conservative) newspaper owners.

He introduced radio broadcasts of Parliament in 1936 (a world-first), the same year that his government launched the National Commercial Broadcasting Service.

This excerpt is from a speech he made at the opening of Dunedin station 4ZB, the fourth of the new commercial stations to open nationwide. He justifies allowing advertising on the air, reassuring listeners that government control of the new commercial stations means: "vendors of useless or harmful products will never be permitted to cry their wares over the air."

It seems that, in spite of initial concerns about the intrusion of advertising into their homes, New Zealanders took well to radio advertising. Concerns were likely alleviated by well considered and targeted advertising placement of the most relevant products to the most interested people: placing ads by geographic location and to fit thematically with the subject of the programme in which they were played. In a later speech, marking success of the first year of commercial radio, Prime Savage stated: "it doesn’t seem so long ago that certain people were loud in their criticism of the Government’s decision to establish commercial radio stations in the Dominion. […] However, I believe Station 2ZB alone, during the past year, has received more than 50,000 congratulatory letters and many thousands of telephone calls" – quoted in New Zealand Radio Advertising (Radio Publications, 1938), p. 10

Image: Michael Joseph Savage. Original photographic prints and postcards from file print collection, Box 1. Ref: PAColl-5471-055. Alexander Turnbull Library

Catalogue Reference 181604

Year 1937


Broadcaster: 4ZB, Dunedin

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