The station was launched at 5.00pm on Monday 9 February 2004, with the first programme aired being a film called 'The School Trip', which was made by students at the Fleming Fulton School in the city. Initially NvTv broadcast just one hour of programming on weekdays which was repeated on loop, with shows repeated again at the weekend; however, the station has now expanded its content and covers community and other events in and around the Belfast metropolitan area, as well as other commissioned programmes.
NvTv was originally granted a four year licence by Ofcom, and is operated by the long established, non-profit Northern Visions media and arts centre in the Cathedral Quarter of the city. The station's facilities are used by 200 community-based organisations, as well as a range of individual actors and filmmakers.
The project provides support for independent media production across Northern Ireland and is funded through commercial adverts, and grants from bodies such as Belfast City Council, Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Film and Television Commission, while the community television journalists were initially paid under the EU's Peace II Programme. Fundraising and donations also serve as a way of boosting the small budget of the project and station.
The community television journalists provide a key part of the project’s strategy by coordinating the training schemes and producing a wide variety of community programming about groups and areas of interest, with a special focus on those who can be classed as being marginalised.
Most of the station’s programming comes through once off short films and documentaries, although there are several regular shows including, the current affairs programme, 'Agenda'; 'Kick out the Jams', a music show; the 'Experiences of Childhood' series; the 'Book Show'; and feature interviews titled 'A Few Moments With...'.