UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has congratulated National Indigenous Television Network (NITV) on their historic free-to-air launch.
During his message, Ki-moon applauded NITV for its work in challenging the stereotypes of Indigenous people.
“This is a momentous achievement for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,” he said in a video message broadcasted on NITV.
“The establishment of NITV will help challenge the stereotypes of Indigenous peoples and will empower Indigenous voices and will influence the social and political agenda.
“It will also play an important role in promoting the rights of Indigenous peoples and safeguarding Indigenous language and culture in years to come.”
NITV was “switched on” at noon (AEDT) today, with a ceremony at Uluru to mark the historic day (12/12/12). NITV previously aired exclusively on subscription TV, but it will now be broadcasted as a free-to-air channel on SBS4.
The live broadcast, from the heart of the nation, was hosted by Indigenous media personalities Stan Grant and Rhoda Roberts. The special broadcast crossed live to SBS employees in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra, who also enjoyed a morning of celebration, with performances from traditional dancers, artists, puppeteers and actors.
The NITV launch event concludes tonight with a two-hour concert (from 8pm AEDT) in Uluru featuring some of Australia's best Indigenous musicians including Casey Donovan, Archie Roach, Christine Anu, Troy Cassar-Daley and Rhoda Roberts.
During the opening ceremony in Uluru earlier today, traditional owner Judy Trigger gave glass coolamons or piti to SBS Managing Director Michael Ebeid, NITV Channel Manager Tanya Denning, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy and Jenny Macklin, the Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.
"It's one of those really historic moments that you can be really proud of: contributing something to a community that has longed for media of their own," said SBS managing director Michael Ebeid.
"It's going to be terrific for them to be able to share indigenous culture and stories in this way."
NITV Channel Manager Tanya Denning said it had taken a "good 30-odd years of getting to this point, having a channel accessible to every Australian.
"There's been a political push to have our place in the Australian media landscape and go back to our ownership of our stories," she added.
Ki-moon expressed the same sentiments.
“Thirty years in the making, NITV now has its rightful place in the Australian media landscape alongside the various international and world Indigenous broadcasters,” he said.
“But let us be clear, NITV is not just for Indigenous people. This will improve understanding of Australia's first peoples and help to create a brighter future for all.”
NITV will air on digital channel 34 (SBS4) on digital TV. It will also broadcast on Foxtel on channel 180.