5. Imparja part 2 - Aboriginal content and commercial imperatives
Back in Alice Springs the station set up by CAAMA is finding it difficult to fulfil its Aboriginal purpose.
There’s not enough Aboriginal input into Imparj[a]… There’s no Aboriginal news service, no Aboriginal magazine service, that can stand up as a television programme.
On our country there are lots of story—lines everywhere, that our people kept strong in the old days, to protect then and keep us all strong. We went together to the tribunal. We argued strongly there, for us to keep our stories always on TV.
At the hearing we said we were going to do 8 hours a week, but there’s certainly no way in the world that we could possibly do that, with the finances that we are able to generate from the service.
Imparja has…goes about the business of buying programming in the same way as any other regional television station buys programming. However, it takes into account the special nature of its service area. And one very important aspect of that is the substantial Aboriginal component of the audience. So without there wishing to be a desire of making a severe division between the way we would programme for the Aboriginal community, as opposed to the way we programme for the rest of the community, the fact is that we do make a distinction because of the special nature of that 25% of our audience….
But funds are extremely limited in making programming specific to the needs of Aboriginal people.
Over the last few months it hasn’t been really focusing on Aboriginal issues, so news has sort of changed since last year, when it was mainly an Aboriginal news service. We have to cater for so many different people throughout our viewing area. There was tend… to bring in a whole, a mixture…if there is a big Aboriginal issue in town that we can get to, and take shots of, we’ll focus on that. Other than that, it’s sort of a mixture, at the moment.
We want our TV to stand level with Imparja…and to be strong together.
My main consideration from the outset is to satisfy the needs of the footprint, which is vast. And..what I’ve been given as a mandate, is to integrate all the cultural requirements, both of the Europeans from Central Australia, predominantly Alice Springs, and the …community. And at the moment we’re achieving a good mix – so that all interest groups, all factions…all aspects of community life are covered as equally from an editorial point of view, as we possibly can.
When you have a situation where you can buy the top-rating television programme in Australia for a very small amount of money, or the time on that programme to any advertiser – when you compare that to a half-hour television programme on…with Aboriginal languages costing $10-20,000, and no-one wants to buy advertising on it, you can see that we have a difficult time actually trying to turn, turn the advertising dollar over, and at the same time meeting our…social obligations.
Take the example of Kellogg’s cornflakes: they will buy the programmes that rate the highest, for obvious reasons. They get better value for it. The reality is that Nganampa does not rate highly. By and large it is true that the local advertisers don’t buy time in Nganampa, but they’re probably doing it for the same reason, that their view is that not many people view it.