Imparja TV: “Something needs to change”

Alice Springs-based broadcaster Imparja TV laid out stark facts to a Senate hearing this week which painted a grim economic future and the loss of local news.

Speaking at a session on regional broadcasters, CEO Alistair Feehan explained Imparja covers a landmass area of 3.6 million square kilometres east of the WA border, via satellite. It screens Nine, 9GO! and 9GEM content across 6 states.

“We don’t even see ourselves as being Regional. We call ourselves Remote,” he explained.

“If you have a look at that area, how do you actually produce a news service? You don’t. You (can’t) make it relevant. So what we do is take Nine’s News service, pull it to pieces and insert some local content.

“We experimented two years ago. We thought we would go down a user-generated news service where we would use local people in local communities to generate the stories. We had a couple of journos basically to check the validity of what we had, and produce a news service that way. We tried that with (Public Interest News Gathering funding), but we couldn’t get funding for it.”

Feehan estimated revenue was once worth $20m but now increased competition had hit the business.

“I’ve probably got a market that may be worth $12 million. I’ve got competitive opportunity from SBS, online I’ve got streamers, we’re just infiltrated at every level. So the economics don’t work.”

He added, “Right now, as it currently sits, there is not a sustainable economic for our business.”

Although Imparja was forced to close its news services, it had joined the Save Our Voices regional campaign with WIN, Prime & Southern Cross.

“This company is owned by Aboriginal people. We’re very unique in terms of broadcasting around the world. We’re a commercial broadcaster. We’re not government funded, we’re Aboriginal owned. We provide huge social platforms, we’re a not-for-profit at the same time,” he continued.

“My board respects what the other three guys are trying to do – WIN, Prime & Southern Cross- but they also sit there and say, “(Imparja is) different, (Imparja is) Aboriginal, so we want to retain their share of voice as an independent group.’

“From an industry point of view we’re looking to say ‘Something needs to change.’ So the Save Our Voices campaign from Prime and our regional partners was something that we really needed to support.”

13 Comments:

  1. Reading between the lines, this seems to be an attempt to ask the government to step in and provide funding. Imparja had a monopoly when it started broadcasting for many years. Now with satellite television and the internet, they have competition. I don’t think it’s right to hand them taxpayers money given they are a commercial entity and their competitors are also commercial entities. They have admitted their business model no longer works, so any money given to them now would be wasted. A better solution is to merge Imparja with NITV/SBS.

  2. I live in Ceduna (SA) and we get Imparjua from NT which has 9 Sydney news, Seven from NT/QLD which has 7 Melbourne News and Ten from QLD/NT with 10 Melbourne News.

    All our ads are from NT/QLD with no local content!

    Also everything is on half a hour earlier as it runs from Eastern Standard Time, so news at 5:30PM….

    Confused yet??….. try living is this bizarre place for TV viewing….

  3. I don’t understand the need, now, for Imparja. It’s nothing like what it started off, with news, current affairs, childrens’ and other locally-relevant programs. It’s now a straight Nine relay. VAST provides the same number of channels available in metropolitan terrestrial areas. All ABC and SBS television channels are available. The commercial channels are provided by Southern Cross, Imparja, Golden West Network (7) and WIN. With Southern Cross (soon WIN) carrying the same Nine programming it’s just duplication. NITV now does what Imparja was set up to do.

        • Yes Imparja is available through two means – its remote licence area, and as a satellite backfill in other licence areas where it is deemed uneconomic to provide existing OTA services like WIN, Prime or Southern Cross.

    • The content Imparja broadcasts is not the only way that it contributes to the indigenous mission – it doesn’t have any money for that now. Imparja also provides facilities to over a dozen indigenous radio stations and covers some technical costs enabling them to continue operating. I believe they air on the VAST service.

  4. I’ve listened to their “Save Our Voices” promos and their Ray Martin half-hours over and over, and I’m still at a loss to understand what they want the government to do to ‘save their voices’. Could only be to allow mergers and/or funding for regional news, one supposes.

      • Imparja had a monoploy because their was no competition. Technology with digital broadcasting, VAST, the NBN over Satellite has allowed people in Imparja’s catchment access to streaming, Foxtel, the ABC, SBS and regional commerical networks. The new players have taken 40% of Imparja’s viewers and hence 40% of their revenue.

        This is what a level playing field looks like, the better players win, just as Netflix and Disney are taking viewers away from FTA. What Imparja wants is an unlevel playing field tilted in their favour with taxpayer funding to keep a platform that serves their political agenda.

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