NITV was initially only carried by cable and satellite providers, along with some limited over-the-air transmissions in certain remote areas. NITV was re-launched in December 2012 by the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) as a free-to-air channel.
Predecessors of NITV
Indigenous groups and individuals lobbied the Australian Government to fund a nationwide Indigenous television service in the 1980s and 1990s, however no major political party championed this cause.
In the late 1990s the Imparja Info Channel (also known as "Channel 31") was launched free-to-view on the satellite Optus Aurora service, providing largely Aboriginal programming direct to homes and via network of BRACS transmitters to remote Aboriginal communities. The Aboriginal programming on this channel later became known as Indigenous Community Television. In 2004, Imparja stated a desire to run a better funded service, at least within its license area.
In the same year, a voluntary NITV Committee was formed and a summit was held in Redfern, Sydney. The summit involved a group of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander media professionals and community members committed to the establishment of a national Indigenous broadcasting service.
Following an Australian Government review in 2005, the Government announced $48.5 million in funding for NITV.
Establishment of NITV
In 2007, NITV established a head office in Alice Springs and a television arm in Sydney. On 13 July 2007 NITV launched, replacing Imparja Info Channel on Optus Aurora and in the remote Aboriginal communities it previously reached. It soon after also became available free-to-air on Optus D1 to Australia and eastern Papua New Guinea .
NITV launched on Australian subscription television services on 1 November 2007 on Foxtel and Austar's satellite service on channel 180, with it becoming available on its cable service soon after. It showed Australian programs and sports like The Marngrook Footy Show, and the annual NSW Aboriginal Rugby League Knockout.
On 30 April 2010, NITV ceased broadcasting on Sydney's digital television Datacasting service along with other services. However, it remained available on subscription services Foxtel, Austar and Optus TV.
NITV as part of SBS
In 2010, the Australian Government commissioned a wide-ranging review of its investment in the Indigenous broadcasting and media sector. The review was headed up by retired senior public servant Neville Stevens with the assistance of Expert Panel members Laurie Patton and Kerrynne Liddle. The review recommended that NITV continue to receive government funding only on the basis that it was re-structured.
Subsequently, Communications Minister Senator Stephen Conroy invited NITV to enter in negotiations with the Special Broadcasting Service to access one of that network's unused digital terrestrial channels. On 8 May 2012, SBS received $15m a year in government funding dedicated to a new free to air Indigenous Australian channel which would replace NITV in July 2012, with 90% of staff transferring to this new channel. SBS took over the management and operation of NITV on 1 July 2012, and NITV was re-launched on 12 December 2012 by SBS as a free-to-air channel on Freeview channel 34. Among its launch day programmes were two live broadcasts from Uluru, including From the Heart of Our Nation, a two-hour event to mark the channel's launch at Noon, and a concert in primetime simulcast by SBS One.
On 29 February 2016, SBS unveiled a refreshed brand and revamped schedule for NITV with an increased focus on its central charter, Indigenous news and current affairs.
NITV News, is the network's national news program which is broadcast nightly, covering stories relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers. NITV's line-up focuses on programming of interest to and showcasing indigenous Australians, such as documentaries, current affairs programs, sports, drama, adult animation and a block of domestic and international children's programming focusing on Indigenous and Aboriginal culture (under the name Jarjums), and films. It also broadcasts programs relating to First Nations culture worldwide.
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- NITV – Media Room
- "NITV: Launch Day". TV Tonight. Retrieved 12 December 2012.
- David Knox. "$158m funding boost for SBS". TV Tonight. Retrieved 10 May 2012.
- "New Indigenous TV channel for SBS". TV Tonight. Retrieved 10 May 2012.
- "SBS – but wait there's more..." TV Tonight. Retrieved 10 May 2012.
- "NITV reveals 2016 schedule and new look brand". IF. Retrieved 5 March 2016.