Many Indigenous communities, leaders and supporters recognised the powerful influence of the media on the lives of Indigenous people. It was recognised that mainstream media generally portrayed Indigenous people negatively.
From the first time media impacted on Indigenous people, they sought to get some control over how they were portrayed.
The Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody made key recommendations in 1991. It recognised that the negative portrayal of Indigenous people in the media affected Indigenous people’s self-perception. It also affected public opinion and in turn public policy. It recommended that Indigenous people be given control over the media.
In 2007, there was barely two hours a week of dedicated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander content being broadcast on national media. The time was right for an innovative Indigenous run organisation to properly represent the many voices of the country's First Australians.
In July 2007, with a small staff team, NITV started beaming out across the bush. From an office in Alice Springs, a long-fought for milestone in modern Indigenous history was finally reached: a national Indigenous television service - Indigenous people telling Indigenous stories, in control of how their images are portrayed. By the end of that year NITV was broadcast on Foxtel, Austar and Optus.
This milestone was the result of more than 25 years of campaigning by Indigenous Australians for the right to have our unique stories, languages, culture and aspirations accurately reflected within the media landscape.
Over those decades, the participation in the media industry by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders increased dramatically. This coincided with the tireless work begun by organisations such as Community Television, Walpiri Media, Ernabella Video and Television, and CAAMA - who all helped pave the way for NITV.
After an initial summit in Redfern in 2005, and following the concerted efforts of Indigenous media professionals around the country, the Federal Government supported the development of NITV with initial funding of $48.5 million.
One of NITV’s first commissions, The Marngrook Footy Show, swiftly became a popular cornerstone of NITVs schedule.
Our news reports, which reflect Indigenous concerns and interests have grown from an initial five minute update to a daily 15 minute bulletin 2008. Since then its popularity has grown and in 2011 the bulletins extended to a live 30-minute 5-days a week broadcast with news reader Natalie Ahmat and we extended our sports coverage to go 7-days-a-week.
Now, as the dedicated Indigenous channel for SBS, NITV is fulfilling its long held objective of beaming free-to-air across Australia and being available to more people than ever before in its history.