National Indigenous Television (NITV) celebrates 10 years of broadcasting on Thursday, marking a decade since the television service first appeared on screens (on 13 July 2007) with its thought-provoking content produced by Indigenous Australians.
Following this week’s milestone, NITV will kick off its 10 year celebrations by showcasing four landmark documentary films commissioned as part of its series You Are Here, starting 23 July. Directed by four celebrated Indigenous filmmakers, the films allow viewers to discover new perspectives on the Australian spirit through Indigenous storytelling and signal the first of a number of NITV commissions that will feature over its tenth year, spanning documentary, entertainment, and drama.
NITV was originally formed after more than 25 years of campaigning by Indigenous Australians for their right to have their unique stories, languages, culture, and aspirations accurately reflected within the media landscape.
A recommendation from the Royal Commission after Aboriginal deaths in custody, found that Indigenous people needed to see themselves reflected on screen in a positive light. Prior to NITV forming, there were barely two hours a week of dedicated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander content being broadcast on national television. Now, a decade on, NITV is continuing to improve the lives of Indigenous people by giving them control of their image, stories and history, as well as preserving and celebrating Aboriginal languages and cultures.
The channel from the bush has gone where other haven’t, broadcasting from the most remote locations from around the country and covering the stories that matter to Indigenous people. Initially only carried by cable and satellite providers, along with some limited over-the-air transmissions in certain remote areas, NITV joined the free to air channels on 12 December 2012, when it joined the SBS Network. The switch-on was celebrated by a concert at Uluru called From the Heart of Our Nation. The move to SBS has provided significant growth for the channel, with it now reaching over two million Australians monthly.
NITV Channel Manager, Tanya Orman said: “I am extremely proud that NITV is celebrating its milestone tenth anniversary. What we have achieved in the last decade is monumental for Indigenous Australians and we are continually entering ground breaking territory as we step into the next decade.
“The channel’s staff and content have received many accolades over the years including Logie nominees, Walkley nominees, a UNAA Peace Award and MIMA Awards. Most recently we opened the Sydney Film Festival with a documentary from our You Are Here series. We Don’t Need a Map was the opening night film, and Connection to Country and In My Own Wordsalso featured in the festival. Our audience’s favourite program, Marngrook Footy Show and our beloved annual broadcast of The Koori Knockout also turn 10 this year, and a decade on we are employing more Indigenous staff than ever before, currently sitting at 74%.”
Over the 10 years, NITV’s commitment to News and Current Affairs has evolved from a rip-and-read five minute news service, to a flagship half hour current affairs program, The Point - with additional programming Awaken and Living Black.
NITV’s commissioned documentary film Servant or Slave received the single biggest ratings a one-off program has ever received in NITV’s history. The channel has since commissioned Australia’s first Indigenous animation series Little J & Big Cuz, Indigenous immersive family documentary series Family Rules, and is this year commissioning an Indigenous children’s drama series, Grace Beside Me. The channel has also commissioned in-language content, most recently Songlines on Screen in 2016, and Little J & Big Cuz aired in six different Aboriginal languages during NAIDOC Week 2017.
Along with the You Are Here series which kicks off from 23 July 8.30pm, 10th year celebrations will continue throughout the year on NITV with a range of on-air specials, a short documentary film produced by the channel looking back at the last 10 years and a special broadcasting event.