The West

Natalie Ahmat and Kris Flanders.

Tanya Denning knows that TV can't solve all the problems of the world, but she is convinced the indigenous channel she manages will be a force for good in Australia.

National Indigenous Television (NITV) begins broadcasting on SBS4 today, the first time the service will be available to all Australians on free-to-air.

"We truly believe this channel will contribute to nation building," Denning said. "The main images everyday Australians have of indigenous people are through news stories, which can be quite negative. This channel will give people access to our lives in a positive way and help us all connect."

The previously independent service began in 2007 and, by the end of that year, was being broadcast on Foxtel, Austar and Optus. Its future had always been uncertain until this year's Federal budget transferred funding for NITV's operations and transmissions to SBS.

The channel will be officially switched on at noon with a day of special programming, starting with a two-hour outdoor broadcast from Uluru called From the Heart of Our Nation, hosted by indigenous broadcasters Stan Grant and Rhoda Roberts.

As the sun sets over the iconic landmark, some of Australia's best indigenous talent, including Jessica Mauboy, Christine Anu, Casey Donovan and Troy Cassar- Daley, will take to the stage to perform in a concert to air from 8pm.

"We chose Uluru because the rock is sacred and special to all our mob," Denning said.

"When NITV first started, there was criticism of it being too Sydney-centric. We wanted to get off on the right foot with an exciting launch celebrating our success and achievement."

The SBS slogan of Seven Billion Stories and Counting sits well with NITV.

"We are the first story, storytelling is our thing and we have 60,000 years worth of stories to share. Our language and culture are alive and well. Viewers will see laughter, cheekiness and romance.

"To have these conversations and images out there in the media will be priceless.

"We have seven hours of children's programs a day and would love schools to tap into that.

"Yes, there are terrible issues out there concerning health and education, but there are success stories too."

Denning, who grew up in a small mining town in central Queensland, recalled being inspired by seeing an Aboriginal newsreader on TV.

"That showed me a glimmer of something out there I could do. And this channel shows our young people they do have a future, there are careers out there, there is hope."

She has already enjoyed the experience of hearing NITV shows being discussed at backyard barbies, and now that their reach will be so much greater, she is looking forward to it happening more often.

"The great thing is NITV really shows regional Australia. Other stations have so much international content, so much bling.

"This is a real, back-to- basics, cool Australian TV channel."

From the Heart of Our Nation airs today at noon on SBS One and NITV/SBS4 with special programming airing all day.

The West Australian

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