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Access to the Electromagnetic Spectrum is a Foundation for Development

Christian Sandvig

In 1985, unusual waves began to propagate from Yuendumu township – population 1,000 – on the edge of the Tanami desert in Australia. The waves were a television signal, an entirely “unauthorized, unfunded, uncommercial, and illegal” effort of the Warlpiri aboriginal nation.17Over the next years, the Warlpiri Media Association produced local, independent news broadcasts, aired indigenous language educational programming, and parlayed locally-controlled television exposure into political organization, tangible educational reform and other self-development assistance. In one memorable moment from the earliest days, the entire Yuendumu School Council traveled 290 kilometers to confront regional education officials with a video camera. As one council member said on tape,”We want this video to prove that we really did come and ask for these things, as the education department is taking no notice of our letters.” The project has been a celebrated success in media development,18 leading to a larger indigenous broadcasting movement and popular, award-winning content. (Continue Reading)