A new era begins for Indigenous media
Although mostly running on a limited budget, the ICTV channel was, from inception, working well for both Imparja and the communities. However, in 2006, things changed dramatically for ICTV. The Federal Government announced that the service was to be closed down and replaced by a National Indigenous Television (NITV) service, with some broadcast space being allocated to ICTV for their local programming. The future looked very exciting. Dr Wendy Bell:
… the ‘caterpillar’ suddenly had a new and exciting opportunity to become the ‘butterfly’ … In 2006 Imparja made a deal to play a major role in the [Federal Government] planned National Indigenous Television (NITV) service from mid-2007. NITV was designed to build upon the existing Indigenous Community TV initiative transmitted on Imparja’s second satellite channel 31 narrowcasting service (Channel 31) using the Imparja uplink facility in Alice Springs.(5)
On Friday 13 July 2007, the ICTV service ceased to be. It was replaced by the new NITV service being broadcast from Imparja and controlled by a board established and administered in Sydney. Program content would be selected by a committee in Sydney, and the ICTV community content in its raw form would need to go through a program selection process before being accepted for broadcast on the new service.
Asked during his 2009 oral history interview how the communities responded to the cut-off on 13 July 2007, Turner told me:
ICTV kept broadcasting right up to the switch-over date … There has been a lot of concern expressed, especially by language speaking groups and Central Australian Ngaanyatjarra Media, and so on, who saw a very different style of television … And just the fact that there was no language suddenly – from 70 to 80 per cent – and Ngaanyatjarra and Pitjantjatjara people and Warlpiri people hearing and seeing people speaking language on their television and suddenly total cut-off … There was just a feeling like they no longer had a say, there was no community control over what was being put up there.