Despite criticisms, NITV receives federal government funding
The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander network NITV can breathe a sigh of relief after the federal government agreed to renew funding for the next 12 months due to it being “in the best interests of all Australians”.
The $15.2 million injection will go into effect from July 1 this year, following the release of the results of a government review into the Indigenous Broadcasting and Media Sector.
Initially the National Indigenous Television Service was given funding for four years and a fifth would be given, pending the review.
“While substantive concerns have been raised with the review about the operations of NITV, I have concluded that it is in the best interests of all Australians that it be retained and that at some point it should be more widely available free-to-air,” the review’s head, Neville Stevens, said in a statement.
NITV chairman Ken Reys agreed, saying the network would negotiate with Communications Minister Stephen Conroy about its future including the free-to-air presence.
“Being free-to-air is a key component of our ability to move towards a more sustainable funding model into the future,” Reys said in a statement.
However the 100-page review criticises the national 24-hour network adding it “is yet to fully meet the expectations of its stakeholders and to fulfil its potential”.
“The review…considers that crucial changes need to be made to its corporate structure and to its content acquisition policies and practices to justify ongoing Australian government funding.
“While the review recognises that NITV has made efforts – particularly in recent times – to establish better relationships with regional and remote producers it considers that still more needs to be done.”
Reys said NITV had been in discussions with the federal government for more than six months about governance and structure and many changes had already been made.
"We believe the government recognises the contribution we are making in helping to close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians," he said.
“We will continue to commission and broadcast high-quality, original and award-winning Australian content.
“Our programs are increasingly being viewed by Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians alike and we will continue to show to the federal government our impressive return on investment.”
NITV's $15.2 million represents half of the total funding for Indigenous Broadcasting Services across the country.