Imparja will deliver information and communication services to the community, while promoting indigenous culture and values, with a continued commitment to our stakeholders and the development of our employees.
As a major initiative Imparja will continually ensure that all of its activities positively promote Aboriginal culture and values.
Imparja is a private, fully commercial television company registered in the Northern Territory. It is unique in Australia and the world, being totally owned and controlled by Northern Territory and South Australian Aboriginal shareholders, who have never requested nor received a dividend, preferring to invest any profit back into the development of the company.
Imparja (pronounced IM-PAR-JA) is the anglicised spelling and pronunciation of the word Impatye, meaning tracks or footprints in the Arrernte language. Arrernte (pronounced AH-RUNTA) is the traditional tribe and language of the Alice Springs region.
The IMPARJA logo was developed from a painting by an Arrernte artist and traditional owner. The logo symbolises the MacDonnell Ranges, the Todd River, and the Yeperenye (pronounced YEP-A-RENYA) Caterpillar dreaming of the Mparntwe (pronounced M-PAN-TUA) people of Alice Springs.
On October 31, 1984, the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal (ABT - now known as the Australian Broadcasting Authority, ABA) was asked by the Federal Minister for Communications to inquire into the granting of commercial television service licenses to four remote areas in Central, North Eastern, South Eastern and Western Australia.
The Western Australian licence was granted to Golden West Network (GWN) in June 1985 and the hearing for the Central Zone was announced the following month. The ABT granted the North Eastern licence to QSTV in September 1985.
In February 1986, CAAMA formed Imparja as a company and in March the hearings for the licence recommenced.
As a sign of support, the Northern Territory Government advised the Tribunal of an "in principle" commitment to purchase a 2.0m package of services from the successful RCTS Central Zone applicant. A similar commitment by the South Australian Government was augmented by the offer of a 1.0m loan facility to Imparja if they were successful.
1987 was an exciting year of development for Imparja: it included transmitter installations, studio construction, and the purchase of rebroadcast sites. Basil Stevens developed the Imparja Television logo. Imparja became the first Aboriginal member of the two most dominant commercial television organisations at the time: the Federation of Australian Commercial Television Stations (FACTS) and the Regional Television Association of Australia (RTA – no longer existing).
1988 - 1998
Imparja’s first test program was telecast on January 2, 1988, bringing a delighted Alice Springs population the Australia versus Sri Lanka Test Cricket. A few weeks later, January 15th the official opening of Imparja Television by the Minister for Communications, the Hon Ralph Willis MP and Warren Snowdon MP, member for the Northern Territory, took place at the head office, 14 Leichhardt Terrace.
Broadcasting live via retransmission sites at Ceduna, Coober Pedy, Leigh Creek and Woomera in South Australia, and Alice Springs, Tennant Creek, Katherine and Bathurst Island in the Northern Territory, Imparja reached a total audience of 62,000 thousand people.
In 1989, the production of a local weather report was seen as the first step towards commencement of Imparja News. It was presented by Lavinia Hampton and gave details of weather conditions in the NT, SA, and NSW.
In 1990, Imparja Local News was launched as a fifteen-minute insert of local news into the national bulletin and Imparja covered the NT Elections live from the Alice Springs studio.
By 1993, Imparja’s viewing audience had grown to 125,000 people, and five successful years of broadcasting were celebrated. The NT TAB purchased an Imparja B-Mac audio channel for retransmissions of its service.
A special highlight in 1994 was the allocation of funding to produce Imparja’s first program, based on "Yamba" the station mascot. "Yamba’s Playtime" is a daily half-hour children’s program providing entertainment, education and information. Awareness of continuing technical developments in the communications industry led the Imparja Board of Directors to establish the Imparja Business Development Sub Committee, to monitor and provide strategic recommendations for areas of growth for the company.
In 1995, Imparja Television received the Telstra Indigenous Business Award for Business of the Year, and launched the Major Employment Strategy as part of its Aboriginalisation policy. The Major Employment Strategy is the practical implementation of providing opportunities of employment and training for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the television industry.
Also in this year the satellite signal moved from the A series to the B series satellite and the Imparja licence was renewed.
Imparja continued its commitment to the development of Aboriginal programming with the launch in 1996 of two new programs: the "BRACS Program", (almost fully produced on Aboriginal Communities), and "Corroboree Rock" an all- Aboriginal music program.
Imparja converted to a proprietary company in 1997.
At the close of its first decade, Imparja was at the leading edge of broadcasting and moving to digital satellite technology on the "Aurora" platform with the signing of an agreement with OPTUS. PYMedia Radio service commenced broadcast on an Imparja B-Mac audio Channel. Wendy Bell’s thesis on Imparja Television has been approved by the Board for publication as a book.
Imparja Television plays a central role in the region and in the town of Alice Springs today. Over 50 people are employed full-time at the station in Leichhardt Terrace, most recruited locally. Our talented commercial production unit produces high quality advertisements for the businesses of central and remote Australia to enable them to promote their services and products. The week-nightly news and weather service is produced by a small and tightly focussed team of journalists, camera operators and presenters, who provide an essential information service to our widely dispersed audience.
The implementation of the Imparja Aboriginalisation policy is successful. This policy is important in providing opportunities and career development for Aboriginal people within the media industry. Imparja’s payroll in 2004 includes over 43% of indigenous people.
As well as indigenous and locally produced programs, Imparja purchases much of its programming from the Nine and Ten Networks, enabling a lively and varied programming schedule with most of the highest rating programs to be broadcast to an audience of over 430,000 people.
Through our access to digital satellite capacity, Imparja also broadcasts a second channel, currently named ‘Channel 31’. Channel 31 broadcasts quality indigenous programming, news, and community information to the remote, outlying communities throughout and beyond the Imparja footprint. This includes 82 of the 100 BRACS communities in Australia. At present, the channel delivers ten hours a day of programming, over half of which is in indigenous language, helping to ensure and support the positive promotion of Indigenous culture and values, a core Imparja philosophy. This channel also provides remote community video producers an audience to showcase and view their efforts, giving a solid purpose to continue to develop their production skills.
Intensive planning is underway for the predicted legislative changes for a move to digital broadcasting in remote and regional areas of Australia.
Imparja is looking forward to a positive future with growth and opportunities. It remains a blueprint for Aboriginal self-determination and fully supports the reconciliation process.