NITV responds to the Stevens Review report into Indigenous TV

Press Release from NITV

NITV has called on the Federal Government to adopt a robust Indigenous broadcasting policy to ensure a viable future for the industry including a central place for NITV.

The country’s only Indigenous television service said policies that would also guarantee triennial funding from July 2012 would be at the centre of its negotiations with the government following the recent release of the Stevens Review into the Indigenous Broadcasting and Media sector.

“We recognise the significance of the Federal Government’s decision to continue our funding in 2011-12, and acknowledge the budgetary challenges presently being faced by the government,” NITV Chairman, Ken Reys, said, adding,

”We are also appreciative that future funding decisions will now reside with the Communications portfolio, along with decisions on increased free to air carriage of NITV. We are accepting of the majority of the recommendations in the Stevens report, however, there were some elements we feel must be addressed and misconceptions corrected.” Mr Reys was commenting following the release of NITV’s detailed response to the Stevens Review report.

Mr Reys feels Stevens had fallen short on the question of how NITV should continue by effectively labeling it as community television and promoting the idea that the social, cultural and economic benefits of Indigenous television should be realised largely through the national public broadcasters and commercial networks.

“NITV is Australia’s only Indigenous TV service. We present Australia’s vibrant and diverse Indigenous culture and can challenge the preconceptions of the wider population about Indigenous television content. NITV is an Indigenous channel and a unique entity. It should not be pigeonholed as community TV or anything else.”

Another observation with which Mr Reys disagrees is that NITV is yet to fulfill its potential. “The implication here is that we should have. We have been on air for less than four years, can reach only a small proportion of the population on a free to air basis, and operate to a modest annual budget (now $15.2 million).

Despite this we have created the first national Indigenous television news service and commissioned more than 1,200 hours of original, quality content in a range of genres from external producers. Secure funding at the right level and availability across Australia as a free to air channel will help us to realise our potential.”

NITV acknowledges that it is the government’s call as to which type of corporate structure it will fund to deliver NITV over the long term, and will negotiate with government in good faith over the transition..

“However our efforts to date must be noted including the establishment of an independent board with relevant expertise and reducing its maximum size from twelve to nine,” explained Mr Reys.

The report also suggested NITV increase the level of content obtained from regional and remote suppliers. NITV acknowledges this need and is confident that its improved relations with stakeholders will deliver the outcome sought. Since its inception 15% of NITV’s commissioning budget has gone to remote producers and nearly 20% of the total transmission output has been about remote Indigenous Australia.

According to Mr Reys the above points are raised to address misconceptions and pave the way for fruitful discussions with government. “Our focus now shifts to NITV’s future and pending negotiations.

“We take the view that there is nothing that cannot be resolved through negotiation. Key pillars in our discussions will be triennial funding, free to air and corporate structure,” he said.

For NITV’s full detailed response to the Stevens Review visit