If audiences enjoy waking up to NITV’s Big Mob Brekky – Australia’s first ever Indigenous breakfast show – this week as part of NAIDOC Week, SBS director of Indigenous content Tanya Denning-Orman doesn’t rule out it becoming a permanent fixture in the future.

Hosted by Shahni Wellington and Ryan Liddle, the show premiered yesterday, broadcasting live from Sydney’s Taronga Zoo, and will run everyday until Friday.

“It’s an on-air pilot; that’s what we do at the channel,” Denning-Orman tells IF.

“If Australians are wanting that different perspective, waking up to something different in the morning, with a bit of our cheekiness as a blackfellas – anything’s possible as part of SBS.”

The decision to run the show stems from a desire to do something different after a year of heavy news content, as well as the current conversation around diversity in media.

“It epitomises why the the Indigenous channel exists in the first place, and that’s for us to be included in the media landscape. One area of that we hadn’t explored yet, as we’ve slowly built the blocks of the channel, is the brekky show,” Denning-Orman says.

“The team are a bit half-scared if it actually means a shift for next year, but in a good way. We want to see what we can do. That’s the fun part of this business.

Big Mob Brekky is just one facet of NITV’s special programming for NAIDOC Week, which this year has the theme ‘Always Was, Always Will Be’. Also on the agenda is a live musical event in Stand Up and Be Counted: A NAIDOC Concert Special, as well as a range of documentaries, movies and news and current affairs programs.

“We wanted to provide a curated piece that celebrated that as Australians, we’re all a part of this incredible 65,000+ history, and that history has enabled us to be where we are in the nation today,” Denning-Orman says.

Stand Up and Be Counted will be simulcast across NITV and SBS on Saturday night from the Brisbane Powerhouse. Hosted by Aaron Fa’aoso and Steph Tisdell, the two-hour special feature appearances and performances from Indigenous artists including Electric Fields and Troy Cassar-Daley.

Denning-Orman promises a variety show full of colour, fun and even acrobats.

“It’s been a tough year. And we need to connect not just as blackfellas, but as community, as Australians. We’re providing this to shake out the year,” she says.

“It’s that cherry on top to celebrate black excellence and provide something to wider Australian audiences as a way to connect, have a laugh with us and consider who we are.”

In July, Denning-Orman was promoted from head of NITV to her SBS role, expanding her remit.

“I’m keen to influence how we do our business across all of SBS. You haven’t seen anything yet,” she says.

Of importance is resonating with audiences in the way they want to connect.

“When you think of SBS, we have Food, we have VICELAND, and we have the main channel. There are different audiences. For me, it’s about how we deliver the Indigenous content and narratives from our lands onto those various platforms. So I’m really excited about that.

“Then as far as attracting or growing the brand of NITV – there are some people who may never connect with, or think NITV’s for them, and that’s okay. But I want them to know about NITV. Through these other platforms that we have, they will potentially cross over to us. We’ve had success over the last year with The Beach where we simulcast that [on SBS] – that’s an NITV-driven commission.”

With regards to NITV commissions, there will be a continued focus going forward on younger audiences; the majority of the Aboriginal and Torres Islander population is under 25. A third season of Ned Lander Media’s Little J and Big Cuz is now in pre-production, a co-commission with the ABC.

Off the back of the success of Going Places with Ernie Dingo, the executive is also keen to do more where “documentary meets travel”, combining food and knowledge, as well as in-language content.

“Definitely I’ve seen a lot of desire for Indigenous knowledge, particularly with the climate crisis we’re currently in. So we are going to be shifting more towards providing that.”

Denning-Orman is excited about The First Inventors, a factual co-commission with Network 10. Hosted by Rob Collins, it will a first hand account of the ancient discoveries made by Indigenous Australians.

Partnerships with other networks are something she wants to continue to foster; NITV also intends to once again simulcast Sunrise Ceremony on January 26 with Network 10 next year.

“Our approach is innovation. We’re not a competitor. We’re a unique proposition in the marketplace. That’s how we position ourselves.

“What was really exciting, Netflix this year with Black Lives Matter, advised its subscribers to switch off Netflix and watch The Point in the evening… it’s awesome to finally be seen in that way by industry peers.”

View NITV’s 2020 NAIDOC Week programming here.

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