Land Rights News Central Australia: Land Rights News (April 2012)

Published: April, 2012

Closing the digital divide

Bush TV satellite dishes coming this year

A satellite dish will be installed on the roof of every house in a remote community in the last half of 2012.

Households will be given a satellite dish, a decoder and a wall socket to receive the Direct-to-Home (DTH) service television services,  funded by the federal government under the Satellite Subsidy Scheme (SSS).

The service replaces the analogue TV in Indigenous communities which will be switched off at the end of next year.

The DTH system will  provide 16 channels of television from the VAST (Viewer Access Satellite Television) platform, the same as in the rest of Australia.

But the increase in the choice of channels comes at a severe cost – there will no longer be local community broadcasting capability in RIBS (BRACS) communities.

The weekend Indigenous Community TV (ICTV) service will also no longer be available beyond 2013. 

NITV is currently in merger discussions with SBS and will likely relocate to an SBS channel, which will be available on VAST.

The remote media industry has been arguing strongly that ICTV should be given a dedicated channel on the VAST satellite to reach remote communities as a full-time service.  This is being considered in Canberra as a replacement for community broadcasting, but is far from certain.

CLC Director David Ross wrote to Communications Minister Senator Conroy to highlight the importance of community broadcasting.

“ It provides jobs and skills for local people and promotes self–representation for a severely marginalised sector of the population in contemporary mass media,” he wrote.

“Historically it has played a critical role in the maintenance of language and culture, which are seen as foundation stones for producing outcomes for the Australian Government’s Closing the Gap agenda

“The Central Australian regional media organisations cater to the unique and specific needs of remote Aboriginal people, and, as the first broadcasters of their kind, occupy a very special place in Australia’s cultural heritage.”