National Indigenous Television (NITV) was launched on 13 July 2007 at the Powerhouse in Sydney as part of NAIDOC week. NITV is a 24 hour television service set up by Indigenous Australians for Indigenous Australians. I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the launch and was part of NITV’s first live audience. The Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator Helen Coonan officially launched NITV with Professor Larissa Behrendt, the Chairperson of NITV. Ms Pat Turner, the CEO of NITV also gave an emotionally charged speech on starting a national Indigenous television service after the 25 year long wait to develop such a service. Ms Turner acknowledged the range of local Indigenous television and film services, such as Imparja Television, which have paved the way for NITV.
There was a performance by the Yeperenye Dancers and Christine Anu as well as interviews with actors, Luke Carroll, Urusla Yovich and Rachel Perkins (Rachel is also the Director of NITV. We saw great advertisements with Indigenous celebrities talking about why NITV is important to them and to Indigenous Australia. Stars who were involved included Luke Carroll, Ursula Yovich, Karla Grant, Aaron Faaso, Wesley Enoch, Adam Hill, Dean Widders and many other famous Indigenous people. It was refreshing to see so many black faces on an Australian television station.
There will be a wide range of programs, including arts programs, documentaries, sports programs, children’s programs, language programs and news and current affairs. There is already a children’s program being shown called Yamba’s Storytime as well as an AFL talkshow program, The Marngrook Footy Show. NITV will also help in reconciling non-Indigenous people with Indigenous people as it will promote more understanding and appreciation of Indigenous culture. Australians will be able to see that Indigenous culture is beautiful and not negative as the mainstream media always seems to portray it. Indigenous peoples will finally be able to feel proud about their culture and what it has to offer other Australians.
NITV has a staged roll out which will include broadcasting over free to air and pay TV channels. To find out if you can receive NITV contact (02) 9959 3888 or (08) 8953 4763 or visit the NITV website www.nitv.org.au. NITV is inviting new and existing program ideas to be sent into their office – further information is available on their website.
Patricia Adjei is Arts Law’s Indigenous solicitor.