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Something New in the Air

Something New in the Air: The Story of First Peoples Television Broadcasting in Canada

Lorna Roth
Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 320
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  • Book Info
    Something New in the Air
    Book Description:

    Lorna Roth focuses on the regional, national, and global implications of Television Northern Canada and the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN), the only dedicated aboriginal television service in the world and available to every household in Canada with cable and satellite. She shows that by making their programming an integral part of the Canadian broadcasting infrastructure, First Peoples have succeeded in mediating their own historically ruptured pasts and creating a provocative model for media resistance. Concentrating on policy development, Roth explains how First Peoples in Canada have refashioned television broadcasting, indigenizing and transforming it into a tool for inter-community and national development. Something New in the Air valorizes the struggle of First Peoples to attain legislated recognition of their collective communications and cultural rights and shows how this struggle explains, in part, why they are now acknowledged as having the most advanced aboriginal broadcasting network in the world.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-7244-7
    Subjects: Performing Arts

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Tables and Maps
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Illustrations
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  6. Acronyms
    (pp. xix-2)
  7. Prologue
    (pp. 3-8)

    It’s 10 February 1975, and I am in Frobisher Bay, Baffin Island – a former American/Canadian military base town in the Canadian Arctic set up as an administrative centre and service reference point for the Distant Early Warning (DEW) line workers.¹ The temperature outside is about -40 Fahrenheit.

    I am working for the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) in one of their two film workshops designed to prepare the Inuit to produce their own television programming. It is three years after CBC television service has been parachuted into the North and there is only one fifteen-minute interview program on the...

  8. Introduction
    (pp. 9-25)

    Stated in its broadest sense, this book is about the roles and rules that broadcasting practices and policies play in both inhibiting and promoting indigenous national self-development in contemporary, multicultural, postindustrial Canada.

    The evolution of Canadian indigenous media policies, discourses, and practices is an important subject to examine at the beginning of the twentyfirst century as aboriginal self-government comes closer to a negotiated consensus than ever before. First, as a direct result of the development of indigenous media over the last three decades, there has been a restructuring of the Canadian broadcasting system to include aboriginal broadcasting as an integral...

  9. 1 Culture, Media, and Development
    (pp. 26-40)

    My purpose in this chapter is to lay out the dominant paradigms of media, culture, and development¹ as they have been deployed and critiqued in relation to each other over the last half century. I am particularly interested in the way the term “culture” and its complex processes have been defined, promoted, and questioned within models of broadcasting.

    At what point did recognition of cultural diversity in broadcasting become critical to national development both in Canada and elsewhere? When did local and regional cultures stop being an obstacle to the modernization process? When did other First and Second World states...

  10. 2 Towards the (De)Romancing of First Peoples and Their Territories: The Policy-Maker’s Imaginary
    (pp. 41-63)

    In his foreword to Raymond Stedman’sShadows of the Indian(1982), Rennard Strickland suggests that understanding the popular image is important not only for the view it provides of the Indian, but also for what it reveals about the society that created the image. Each new White generation has reinvented the Indian in the image of its own era and these images, Strickland insists, continue to dominate Indian policy. History and policy are opposite sides of the same coin, and one cannot begin to understand the realities of modern Indian life and what the prospects are for the next generations...

  11. 3 Building Media Infrastructure in the Canadian North: Early Deliberations and Policy Actions
    (pp. 64-83)

    By the 1950s, Southern-produced films and print media had been circulating stereotypical images of the North outside the purview of Northern First Peoples for decades. In this context, it was public radio – transplanted into the North towards the end of the decade – that presented itself as a relatively open linguistic medium, and First Peoples turned to it for culturally relevant information about their lives. The way radio was introduced made it immediately possible for aboriginal peoples to participate in its development as local broadcasters. Radio was inexpensive, both technologically and culturally.

    Until the formation of CBC Northern Service in 1958,...

  12. 4 Public Mediations and Northern Television
    (pp. 84-121)

    When plans for a Canadian domestic communication satellite became public in 1969, First Peoples and academics (mainly social scientists) expressed a great deal of concern about the potential impact of the satellite on native cultures. Many studies were conducted (Kenney 1971; Telecommission 8(c) 1971; Mayes 1972) to evaluate the goals of the program and to attempt to influence the direction of federal planning. The basic preoccupation was not whether the satellite was necessary but rather the uses to which the satellite would be put and its potential social impact on the native population. What kinds of shifts in perception and...

  13. 5 Policy-ing the North
    (pp. 122-171)

    First Peoples’ community groups³ turned to the self-organized communication project as a response to the federal government’s lack of provision for a culturally and linguistically inclusive broadcasting service. Successful projects met the basic communication needs of First Peoples’ communities, demonstrated their administrative and management skills in television production, and expanded technical and community-based knowledge about media use. Accumulated evidence of project successes became the basis for a policy dialogue between First Peoples and the federal government, including the DOC, the CRTC, and the Secretary of State’s Native Citizen’s Directorate.

    The idea and practice of First Peoples’ self-representation in broadcasting promised...

  14. 6 Bridges-over-the-Air: Aboriginal Television as Cross-Cultural Bridge
    (pp. 172-186)

    In 1977, a little-known document calledIkarut Silakkut: Bridges-over-the-Airbegan circulating in Northern Canadian centres. The illustration gracing its front cover is of an Inuit man beating a drum on which there is a map of Canada with arrows pointing from the North towards the South. There are two quotations superimposed on the drum. These read: “How, by reversing the South-to-North flow of broadcasting, a cultural passage may be realized by the Canadian Inuit” and “How a return of information from North-to-South - from the Canadian Inuit to the Canadian population as a whole may become for the Canadian nation...

  15. 7 Television Northern Canada: The Dream of a Northern Dedicated Transporder Becomes a Reality
    (pp. 187-200)

    In January 1987, aboriginal and Northern broadcasters met in Yellowknife to form a consortium with the goal of establishing a pan-Northern distribution service. The expectation – built into the NNBAP – that CBC Northern Service and Cancom would be the primary carriers for Northern native programming had proven too complex and frustrating. National programming such as “Hockey Night in Canada” had often preempted NCS programming on the CBC. Even coverage of thefirstplebiscite to determirie whether or not the Northwest Territories would be divided into Nunavut (Inuit territory) and Denendeh (all other territories of the former NWT) had been cancelled because...

  16. 8 The Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) – Going National
    (pp. 201-218)

    TVNC’S pan-Northern successes convinced its board of directors and staff to pursue the establishment of a nationwide network. After a vote in June 1997, steps were initiated to make this dream into reality. First, TVNC representatives attended the Assembly of First Nations’ (AFN) annual general assembly in 1997 at which the AFN passed a resolution supporting TVNC’S attempts to develop a national service. This was followed by similar presentations to other national aboriginal organizations. Henceforth, submissions to the CRTC became a regular occurrence (Explore North 1999).

    In January 1998, TVNC hired Angus Reid (a public opinion consulting firm) to conduct...

  17. Conclusion
    (pp. 219-232)

    This book has situated indigenous broadcasting development within the broader context of contemporary Canadian multicultural society. Through historical analysis of the key phases in indigenous television broadcasting development and, more specifically, through several case studies, I have shown how broadcasting sites have become pivotal tools of expression for First Peoples’ cultural, social, and political imaginaries. Furthermore, indigenous broadcasting has opened up frontier audiovisual spaces, improving the information structures, sources, and conditions for the renegotiation of their power relations in Canadian society. First Peoples have become national media citizens in control of their own information services and public intellectual perspectives.


  18. Appendix A Communities Served by Frontier Coverage Packages
    (pp. 233-233)
  19. Appendix B Specific Recommendations of the Northern Communication Conference, Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, 9–11 September 1970
    (pp. 234-236)
  20. Appendix C Profiles of Native Communication Societies Involved in the Northern Native Broadcast Access Program and the Northern Distribution Program — Sponsored by the Department of Canadian Heritage
    (pp. 237-242)
  21. Notes
    (pp. 243-258)
  22. Bibliography
    (pp. 259-284)
  23. List of People Interviewed
    (pp. 285-288)
  24. Index
    (pp. 289-300)