• 'Native Affairs' on Maori Television (Supplied)Source: Supplied
This week, NITV welcomes the delegates of the World Indigenous Television Broadcasters to the International conference to Gadigal Land, Sydney. But who are they and how do they contribute to ensuring Indigenous stories and voices have a place in the media market?
Sophie Verass

7 Nov 2016 - 8:30 AM  UPDATED 30 Nov 2016 - 11:56 AM

Establishing a media service for First Nations Peoples is human right according to the United Nations. Article 16 of the 'UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples' states, "Indigenous peoples have the right to establish their own media in their own languages and to have access to all forms of non-Indigenous media without discrimination.". 

Indigenous media plays a vital role in the well-being of First Nations Peoples, ensuring that Indigenous people are represented in national communications, and can access affairs, issues, information and entertainment that is central to them. Indigenous media also makes a generous effort to promote, preserve and protect First Nations Peoples' language and cultural customs and many are successful in nurturing a new generation of native language speakers. 

Here are the key players, who nationally distribute information and entertainment on the Indigenous issues of their country.  


Māori Television | New Zealand

Māori Television was launched in 2004 with a mission contribute to, and revitalise, the Māori language. It services New Zealand's Māori peoples, as well as the wider community with almost two thirds of their audience made up of non-Māori viewers. 50 per cent of Māori Television's programming on their Free To Air service is in Māori. Māori Television also airs popular U.S children's show, 'SpongeBob Square-Pants' dubbed in Te Reo Māori as SpongeBob Tarau Porowhā.

Questions with Chief Executive Officer of Māori Television, Pāora Maxwell ...

1. Why is Indigenous media so important to you?

We know from our own research that Maori Television and digital media are crucial in the revitalisation of language and culture for native peoples. The Indigeneity of the media is important, but it also has to be relevant in people’s everyday lives, that is why we are continuing to move into the digital age as this form of media has become increasingly important for reaching out to our audiences. Everywhere we go, people are accessing content from their mobile devices. Our lifestyles are busy and demanding and modern technology allows us to watch when we want. We are now offering our content on more than just linear, because that is how we will retain our audiences. There is huge competition for audience and therefore technology allows us to deliver content that promotes our language and culture in a high quality On-Demand format that is readily accessible.  

2. What's been the best experience working as Chief Executive for Māori Television?

I love working in an organisation where the health and well-being of the Māori language and culture is at the heart of everything we do. I have been in broadcasting for over 30 years now and to be able to work for a Māori company, with the job of contributing to the revitalisation of our language and culture is a real privilege.

3. What is your favourite program on the channel?

I don’t have a particular favourite – but what I do like is the way our programmes open the door to the Māori world and showcase Māori working, living and playing in cities, on our marae, in the rural areas and overseas. Māori are a diverse people and our programmes reflect this diversity.  


‘Ōiwi TV | Hawai‘i, U.S

‘Ōiwi TV produces media from a Native Hawaiian perspective, allowing the Indigenous people of the Polynesian island-come-U.S state to tell stories of their land and their people. The channel's vision is to re-establish the Native Hawaiian worldview to a place of authority in Hawaii, Hawaiʻi and the rest of the world. 



TITV | Taiwan, Rep. of China


In the 1980s, political movements in Taiwan saw Indigenous people call for more promotion and preservation of their cultural practices and their mother language in the media. But it wasn't until nearly 20 years later in 2001, after campaigning for Indigenous issues to be covered in national media by Indigenous peoples, that the nation's first Indigenous television station was formed. 

Questions with Vice Chief Executive Officer of Indigenous Peoples Cultural Foundation, Doyu Masao ...

1. Why is Indigenous media so important to you?

On the island of Taiwan, we have a lot of different Peoples residing here. It is very important to have mutual respect and understanding. There many issues and problems have emerged because of the misunderstanding of different Peoples and cultures, especially regarding Indigenous Peoples. We, the Indigenous Peoples from Taiwan, have gone through generations of various colonial regimes. Our communities have been suppressed, changed and even broken down. We've lost to much in the history. That's why we need Indigenous media to be seen, to point out and address on the issues and problems. It is with an Indigenous media, we can voice out for ourselves. 

2. What's been the best experience working as Vice Chief Executive Officer for Indigenous Peoples Cultural Foundation?

It is great that I'm able to tell the cultural practice and stories of different Indigenous communities to our audience, whether they are Indigenous or not. I would get heartwarming responses, telling me how touched they are. Quite often when I take a taxi and tell the driver my destination is TITV, he or she will then tell me how much they enjoy watching the quality programs on TITV and how TITV provides them with information to get to know the Indigenous Peoples better.

3. What is your favourite program on the channel?

I like all of them very much, but if I have to choose one, I would suggest that people to take a look at the program "O'rip". It's a TV program that comprehensively documents the daily lives in the communities. You can really feel the beauty of the communities by watching "O'rip".


BBC Alba | Scotland, U.K

The word 'Alba' means Scotland in Scottish Gaelic. The television, radio and online service is a partnership between the UK's national public broadcaster BBC and the Scottish Gaelic media service, MG Alba. It's the only partnership of a BBC license with an outside media house. BBC Alba largely uses the national Gaelic language, but will add English subtitles to its content. It broadcasts more Scottish sport than any other channel, with over three hours a week dedicated to football, rugby and shinty, a national sport played with sticks and a ball. 


APTN | Canada

Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) offers a variety of programming related to First Nations Peoples of Canada, including documentaries, news magazines, dramas, entertainment specials, children's series, movies, sports events, educational programs and more. The network programming is approximately 56 per cent English, 16 per cent French and 28 per cent Aboriginal languages.

A popular series on the network is comedy series, 'Mohawk Girls'; Four twenty-something Aboriginal women are trying to find their place in the world - and, of course, trying to find love. But in a small social circle where everyone has dated everyone on the "rez", or the hot new guy turns out to be your cousin, it isn't that simple.


TG4 Súil Eile | Ireland

TG4 has a share of 2 per cent of the national television market in the Republic of Ireland and 3 per cent of the national television market in Northern Ireland - impressive given the alternative television service is broadcast mainly in Irish Gaelic. The daily Irish-language programme schedule is its core service: seven hours of programming in Irish supported by a wide range of material in other languages, mostly English. It broadcasts news and current affairs and entertainment, with a large focus on sports programming, extensively covering Irish sports, such as men's and women's Gaelic football and hurling competitions and club championships.


NRK Sápmi | Norway

NRK Sápmi services a radio, online and television service for the Sami people of Norway. The Sami language is a part of the Uralic language of Northern Europe, including parts of Finland, Sweden, Norway and North-West Russia. The service first began as a radio news program in 1946, to becoming an establish broadcaster in the 1980s. 


NITV | Australia

National Indigenous Television (NITV) is a channel made by, for and about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. NITV aims to inform, educate and entertain its Indigenous and non-Indigenous audiences about the issues that matter the most to Indigenous Australians. In 2012, the independent broadcaster partnered with national media house, Special Broadcasting Service (SBS).  

Questions with Channel Manager of NITV, Tanya Orman ...

1. Why is Indigenous media so important to you?

Indigenous media serves a real purpose of empowerment and economy and beyond our communities, it influences, inspires and makes positive changes for good. Public perception influences public policy and for a population so small in Australia - we're only 2.6 per cent of the population - we need mainstream Australia to make the right decision when they vote in their leaders – literally black lives depend on it.

In conjunction with community, it plays an important role with language revitalisation and education. Indigenous perspective on international and national affairs provides different lens and voice to important issues. Indigenous media provides a platform for communities to see themselves and their place in the world. Especially in Australia, where you struggle to see yourself and your story represented anywhere else.

Indigenous media values Indigenous stories and practitioners, having a broadcaster like NITV has opened up careers and pathways. The sense of pride and belonging is powerful for our future survival.

2. What's been the best experience working as Channel Manager for NITV?

I have been with NITV since it first broadcast as a narrowcaster to the bush in 2007, 'Black Friday' the 13th of July.

I felt privileged to commission the first hours of NITV back then, but my career highlight was to lead NITV into becoming a Free-To-Air Channel as part of SBS in 2012 – 12th of December at 12 pm we switched on NITV from Uluru. There are many people who made it possible for NITV to be available to every Australian and being tasked to manage the channel was overwhelming but the support and messages I received through that journey kept me going and made me stronger everyday.

I am still learning, still needing guidance and literally every day the messages still come. They come from people who are learning from NITV, come from people who being entertained by NITV.

The best experience for me, since I have been there every day since the beginning, is seeing how far we have come. Every day I am excited by the experience I am about to have around the corner …

3. What is your favourite program on the channel?

This is a hard one as I have so many. What I enjoy about NITV programming is the shared experience you can have.

I am loving watching Shadow Trackers at the moment because my 11 year old son enjoys it and we can watch it together.

Shadow Trackers - Episode Guide
Shadow Trackers go where no Blackfella has gone before… Spirit chasing!

I get mesmerised by the beautiful Songlines series and feel so enriched that the elders have shared their creation stories with us.

I'll add here that every NITV Commissioned program excites me when it premiers because of the story behind the screen. The beauty of NITV is the unique perspective and I love it when a first time filmmaker has their story debuted on NITV.

And just recently I loved being on the phone to my mum in Rockhampton talking about the remastering of Jedda, and that you can still watch that film. 60 years captured by a story and reflects on our filmmaking journey in Australia.

Beck Cole: Jedda is a lens into '50s white Australia
COMMENT | Acclaimed director and writer Beck Cole reflects on the first time she saw the film Jedda, its complex position in the canon of Australian film and how far the Indigenous film and television industry has come since then.

I also can’t deny how proud I am that every week night in prime time on NITV, Indigenous issues are discussed and much needed stories told by the channel's news and current affairs team. This quite simply wouldn’t happen without NITV.


NITV welcomes the World Indigenous Television Broadcasters Network to Sydney
NITV is currently hosting WITBN, the World Indigenous TV Broadcast Network, Conference at the SBS studios in Sydney and our Channel Manager, Tanya Denning-Orman, helped to open the conference with a rousing speech about the importance of Indigenous media, and the importance of this global network.
'WITBN is family': Indigenous broadcast forum opens at NITV
Eight Indigenous broadcasting operators from around the globe are meeting in Sydney to discuss and celebrate Indigenous cultures around the world.
Nation Without Borders - Episode Guide
To celebrate the World Indigenous Television Broadcasters Conference taking place in Sydney this week, NITV brings to you a fresh new current affairs series showcasing the issues facing our Indigenous brothers and sisters from around the world.