George Courts Dept Store: Radio Broadcasting

RADIO BROADCASTING

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For many years the roof of the George Courts Department sported two huge radio antennae from which the 1YA radio frequency was broadcast across Auckland.


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This was because the first Broadcasting House for Auckland was located in France Street just behind the Store and the George Courts building was the tallest building on the Karangahape ridge.

The building constructed for the Radio Broadcasting Company of New Zealand was designed by Herbert Clinton Savage who was also the architect of the George Court & Sons Department Store.

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The Radio Broadcasting Company of New Zealand Ltd


The Radio Broadcasting Company of New Zealand existed from 1925 to 1931 - their headquarters was in Christchurch but they set up branches in the three other main cities of the Dominion; Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin.

In 1925 the government granted the Radio Broadcasting Company of New Zealand a five year contract.

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A principal feature of the agreement was that the company was to establish and operate radio stations in the four main centres.

500-watt transmitters were constructed in Auckland (August 1926) Christchurch (Sept 1926) and a 5-kilowatt station in Wellington. Dunedin followed in 1929.


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Broadcasting House France Street


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Income for the company came not from advertising but from radio dealers' licences and 25 shillings from each receiving licence.

The intention was that the company expand four existing stations in the main centres to establish a national non-commercial broadcasting system (which as it turned out was the direct forerunner of today's National Radio).

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The growth in Radio broadcasting was impressive; in 1925 there were under 5,000 licence holders in the Dominoin of New Zealand; by December 1931, there were approximately 70,000 licence holders.


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However while the income was sufficient to maintain the existance of the company services it was viewed by the Government as insufficent to attain the expansion it envisaged.

In 1931 the contract was not renewed and legislation was passed to establish the government-appointed New Zealand Broadcasting Board which was also dependent on licence fee income.

This effectively nationalised the Radio Broadcasting Company of New Zealand transforming the four private radio stations in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin into government owned and operated commercial free stations - the National Radio service.


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Advertisement for George Courts emphasising the Radio towers.

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The Radio towers on top of the George Courts building were dismantled.

They were re-erected on the roof of the new Broadcasting Studios in Shortland Street from where the now nationalised Radio service broadcast.


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In 1936 the first Labour government set up the National Broadcasting Service as a government department which soon added fully commercial stations.

It also allowed private stations to obtain income from advertising which up until this time had been illegal.

A separate commercial Radio Station was licenced for each of the major centres - thus Auckland was served by a non-commerical station 1YA and the commercial station 1ZB, Wellington 2YA & 2ZB, Christchurch 3YA & 3ZB and Dunedin 4YA & 4ZB.

The France Street Broadcasting House was demolished around 1935 and replaced by a warehouse block for the George Courts Store.


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1920s Radiogramme.

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1920s Radio Advertisement.

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Hours of Transmission 1926 - Paperspast

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On the first two nights, Saturday and Sunday, August 7, and 8, special sessions will be given, that of Saturday being from 8 to 10.30 p.m. and that of Sunday from 7 to 9.30 p.m.

Regular transmission will commence on Tuesday, August. 10, and the time-table will be as follows Tuesdays and Fridays.

Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Saturdays.

Sundays.

There will be no transmissions from the Auckland station on Mondays.

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1920s Radio Advertisement.

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Advertisement for Charles Pearson's Radio store on K Road.

Pearson's private Radio station eventually became 1ZB under the new regulations in the 1930s.


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1920s advertisement by the Bristol Piano company of K Road.

It was common for Sheet Music Emporiums and Musical Instrument Sellers to branch out into grammaphones, records, radios and eventually Televisions..


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1950s Advertisement from a K Road retailer.

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