Imparja is an Arrernte word meaning footprints. The word is used to represent that Imparja Television aims to service Arrente people wherever they may live, from Mutitjulu to King's Canyon to Alice Springs to Tennant Creek and beyond. They describe their range as a footprint.
In 1986 hearings for the allocation of the license began, and the Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association (CAAMA), which began providing Central Australian radio programs in local languages in 1980, formed Imparja Television as a company. Soon after, the Government of the Northern Territory supported Imparja's application for a license by offering to purchase an estimated $2 million package of services from the successful applicant for the central Australia license area. The Government of South Australia undertook a similar promise, offering loans of $1 million to Imparja if they were successful.
By 1987 the new station had begun to build transmitters, rebroadcast sites, and new studios based in Alice Springs. Imparja became the first Aboriginal member of the Federation of Australian Commercial Television Stations and the now-defunct Regional Television Association, both dominant organisations at the time.
Imparja’s first test program, Australia versus Sri Lanka Test Cricket, was telecast on January 2, 1988, in Alice Springs. Two weeks later, on January 15, 1988, the station was officially inaugurated by Minister for Communications Ralph Willis and Warren Snowdon, an Australian federal member of parliament for the Division of Lingiari in Northern Territory, at Imparja Television's head office in Alice Springs.
Imparja TV was chaired by Freda Glynn for its first 10 years and, for a time, she was the only female chair of a television network in the world. Freda was one of the first three founders of CAAMA — the others being John Macumba and Philip Batty.
Imparja Television had an initial population reach of 62,000 people, which by 1993 had grown to 125,000. Imparja was available through 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, as well as on the Optus Aurora satellite platform.
Imparja initially carried programming from all three major Australian commercial television networks, but following aggregation of market area with QSTV, it affiliated with the Nine Network and Network Ten. Imparja Television also screened some ABC Television and SBS Television indigenous programs, all in addition to original programs commissioned by the station.
By 1993, Imparja’s viewing audience had doubled to approximately 125,000 Australians. This inturn lead to the increased allocation of government funding in 1994 to produce Yamba’s Playtime, which was the network's first in-house televisual production. Yamba’s Playtime features the network's official mascot, "Yamba". Also in 1994, the Imparja Board of Directors established 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. Also in 1995, Imparja's satellite transmission moved from the Aussat A-Class satellites to the Optus B1 satellite, and the station's licence was renewed.
Two new in-house productions were launched in 1996. The first being the BRACS Program, which was almost fully produced by Aboriginal communities, and Corroboree Rock, an Aboriginal music program.
Imparja's parent company, Imparja Pty Ltd, converted to a proprietary company in 1997, whilst in the late 1990s, Imparja moved to digital satellite technology on the Optus Aurora platform. This meant that Imparja's satellite transmission moved from the Optus B1 satellite to the Optus C1 satellite.
Imparja faced criticism by a number of community groups in 2004, following the station's decision to introduce advertising for alcohol for the first time. The network pledged to donate 30% of the total income received from alcohol advertising towards alcohol and substance abuse programs in communities.
In 2005, Imparja National News, which primarily covered the news in Alice Springs in addition to other national and international news stories, was axed. The move was taken in anticipation of the network's license area being merged with that of Darwin. Regulations imposed by the Australian Communications and Media Authority relating to minimum levels of local news coverage led to 2006 reinstatement of Imparja National News. The news service began broadcasting again from the middle of February 2006, with Ryan Liddle as presenter.
In the mid 2000s, it was widely expected that the Australian Communications and Media Authority would merge the "Darwin" and "Remote Eastern and Central Australia" commercial television licence areas. This would have most likely seen Imparja Television become a Network Ten affiliate in Darwin. However, this did not eventuate, instead PBL Media and Southern Cross Broadcasting, the two existing Darwin Commercial licence holders were invited to bid individually or together. Their successful joint bid used a company called Darwin Digital Television.
On February 3, 2008, Imparja Television updated it's logo removing the emblem, which had been present on the logo for two decades. The logo change coincided with Imparja dropping Network Ten affiliation, becoming a sole Nine Network affiliate, in addition to axing Imparja National News.
Imparja's programming schedule is currently based on the Nine Network schedule for Brisbane; that is, based on Eastern Standard Time. Prior to 2008-02-03, scheduling was generally based on Central Standard Time, reflecting its Alice Springs-based heritage. As a result, programs are now broadcast half an hour earlier than they previously would have been under the previous arrangement.
The 6.00pm (AEST) time slot is filled by a simulcast of National Nine News from Brisbane. Imparja cites its geographic distribution, with a majority of the remote licence area's viewers now located in Queensland, as a "key factor" in selecting the Brisbane bulletin.
March 22 2008: Imparja was available in New Zealand until a few days ago when the NZ govt pressured the new Australian Govt to remove the Satellite footprint providing this service.
The total population serviced by Imparja Television is approximately 450,000 people.
Imaparja is also available in Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea though the HiTRON subscription television service.
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