Indigenous broadcasters beef up push for cultural revitalisation

Indigenous and first-nation broadcasters are reuniting in Uluru, Australia, to strengthen shared aspirations to revitalise and promote indigenous languages and cultures at the 2022 World Indigenous Television Broadcasters Network (WITBN) meeting.

WITBN Chairman Shane Taurima (Rongomaiwahine) sees the network as a cohesive partnership between indigenous broadcasters from around the world, aimed at building capacity within the indigenous media broadcasting sector.

“Those within the WITBN fold will come together for the first time in many years. In an oversaturated market of content, this year’s WITBN meeting will enable us to share indigenous knowledge, experiences within indigenous storytelling, be able to identify opportunities for development and together take indigenous storytelling to another level,” Taurima says.

A not-for-profit organisation, the World Indigenous Television Broadcasters Network (WITBN) is an alliance of indigenous broadcasters from five different countries: Whakaata Māori in Aotearoa New Zealand, APTN in Canada, NRK Sápmi in Norway, Taiwan Indigenous Television (TITV) and National Indigenous Television (NITV) in Australia.

“This meeting is a unique and long overdue opportunity to meet with folks from other Indigenous networks. To that end, I'm looking forward to learning about how we can best collaborate with other broadcasters to deliver excellent programming, accomplish our collective goals, and reach new audiences around the world,” APTN chief executive Monika Ille (Abenaki First Nation of Odanak) says.

Collaboration opportunities

“WITBN not only gives us the platform and the opportunity to work with other broadcasters and networks but also broadens the cultural horizons in Asia. We are looking forward to collaborating more with other members of WITBN,” TITV chief executive Magaitan Lhkatafatu says.

During the meeting, Australia’s National Indigenous Television (NITV) will celebrate a momentous milestone of 10 years of free-to-air broadcasting, making the channel dedicated to First Nations storytelling accessible to all Australians.

“Ten years ago, NITV changed the media landscape in Australia, and it continued to do it today. It is a privilege that WITBN will be celebrating with NITV on its home soil the oldest living continuous culture on the planet, and celebrate telling indigenous stories 65,000 years in the making,” Taurima says.

“We’re excited to be able to have our WITBN partners be a part of this special moment for our channel, and for Australian broadcasting, as we celebrate a decade of being available to all Australians as a free-to-air channel. This milestone is an opportunity to recognise the decades-long journey that led us to this moment, and the trailblazers who fought for our space to tell our stories on our terms in the media. We stand on their shoulders and continue their work,” says Tanya Denning-Orman, director of indigenous content at SBS, the network NITV is a part of.

“We are joined by our common goals of the revitalisation and rejuvenation of our languages and cultures. There may be hundreds of kilometres that separate u, but we are united always, in our journey to ensure the survival of our first nation and indigenous languages and cultures,” Taurima says.

Whakaata Māori and APTN in Canada this week signed a deal that establishes a strategic partnership between the two broadcasters to share and distribute content.