NITV report raises concerns amid new funding
By Brendan Swift
A government-backed review of the National Indigenous Television (NITV) service says the broadcaster needs to repair relationships with indigenous media groups and improve its governance standards.
It comes as the government last week extended NITV’s funding by another 12 months with a $15.2 million grant. However, its ongoing support will be considered as part of a broader industry-wide review, which will consider all government support for the indigenous media sector.
The NITV review, conducted last year by Hugh Watson Consultancy on behalf of the government, raised concerns that the organisation’s ambitions to become a national broadcaster has strained relationships with indigenous groups.
“The gap between the expectations of Government and indigenous community media organisations and the aspirations of NITV is a cause of considerable disharmony,” the NITV report said. “It must be resolved in the development of the next funding agreement.”
NITV’s predecessor, ICTV, was predominately an open access indigenous language/cultural service. However, NITV has argued that community broadcasters cannot deliver the required broadcast standards or get the appropriate intellectual property rights clearances.
NITV deputy chief executive and director of content, Paul Remati, was unavailable for comment.
NITV reaches an indigenous audience of around 200,000 each week and has purchased and commissioned up to 1,400 hours of first run Australian programming since it began broadcasting in mid-2007.
Among its slate are programs such as the Marngrook Footy Show, kids game show Letterbox and music variety show Pmarra Country.
NITV kids' program Letterbox
While the report found that NITV's governance practices were reasonably well established it recommended the board be restructured to meet critical organisational skills, such as financial management, and that board members should not also be required to be NITV members. It also suggested that the government appoint at least half of the board as it provides almost all of NITV's funding.
"We suggest that the selection for membership of the board be subject only to the skills and expertise of the person proposed as a member," the report said.
The organisation met 13 of 32 applicable good governance aspects assessed in the report. Its arrangements were partially developed in 10 cases and did not meet standards nine cases.
A summary of the report can be read here.