Australia launches first indigenous TV channel

Last updated 15:00 12/12/2012

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In an historic move,  Australia's first free-to-air indigenous TV channel will be  launched today.

The third channel for SBS will be ''switched on'' by Communications Minister Stephen Conroy as part of a ceremony at Uluru, in the country's centre.

National Indigenous Television (NITV), which has been  broadcasting for the past five years on pay TV, will broadcast a day of special programming including two live outdoor broadcasts from Uluru.

They will be presented by indigenous broadcasters Stan Grant and  Rhoda Roberts, who will interview a number of special guests.

There will also be a live broadcast of a celebration concert near the rock tonight featuring top indigenous artists including Archie Roach, Casey Donovan and Troy Cassar-Daley.NITV Channel Manager Tanya Denning said it had taken a ''good  30-odd years of getting to this point, having a channel accessible  to every Australian''.''

A lot of the first moves into television were in Central Australia,'' she said, explaining why Uluru had been chosen as the  location for the launch.

''There's been a political push to have our place in the  Australian media landscape and go back to our ownership of our stories.

''The launch follows the federal government's 2012 budget  announcement to transfer funding from NITV to SBS to develop a new, national digital free-to-air channel dedicated to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander content.

SBS managing director Michael Ebeid, who was involved in the negotiations, welcomed the move.''It's one of those really historic moments that you can be  really proud of contributing something to a community that has longed for media of their own,'' Ebeid says.

''It's going to be terrific for them to be able to share  indigenous culture and stories in this way.''The channel will also help record indigenous culture for both  indigenous and non-indigenous Australians.

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- AAP

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