All happening under the watchful yet seemingly lazy eye of MBIE.
Mr Lodhia leases 1386AM to Radio Tarana under a Full Commercial Licence. He then has intertwined dealings with the registered owners of 5TUNZ, the company that operates Radio Humm on 106.2FM under a Local Commercial Licence.
At the heart of the matter is that local commercial licences are less expensive but more restrictive than full commercial licences and overseen by MBIE. Mr Khan’s cost base therefore is higher than the Prasad’s and he operates under different rules.
Publicly available documents outline the dispute surrounding Mr Khan’s allegations that Radio Humm is failing in its statutory obligations under its Local Commercial Licence not only a) in terms of the required local content but b) commonality of ownership and the sometimes invisible hand of Harish Lodhia.
The 5TUNZ local commercial licence does not permit cross-ownership in a full commercial licence such as Mr Lodhia’s 1386AM.
Radio Humm is directed more at the youth market and Mr Khan alleges that rather than have the required local content it is “predominantly international Bollywood and that does not fulfil the continuous broadcasting obligations”. It is also alleged that Humm doesn’t meet local programming obligations.
A quick look at Radio Humm’s website indicates that the main advertiser is indeed Mr Prasad’s employer Enterprise Motor Group where Mr Prasad holds a senior position since arriving in New Zealand in 1987. The second most ubiquitous advertiser is its financing arm, Community Financial Services Limited (CFS). This is where things get rather fishy.
I asked Mr Lodhia if he saw a conflict between leasing one frequency and financing with and assisting the ownership of another to Mr & Mrs Prasad with loans for whatever reasons. His response:
“My only obligation and financial interest is in Radio Tarana”.
Mr Lodhia asked me to look at the whole picture, so I did from correspondence to MBIE from Mr and Mrs Prasad’s lawyers on the 18th October 2013 as well as information publicly available from the Companies Office. The Prasads and Lodhias have previously set up a business together in 2007 called Eleganta Artifacts and Furniture (NZ) Limited. Here is what the current picture looks like though: