ICC Committees on Communications and
Broadcasting Meet in Montreal:Inuit Media Inventory Planned

On June 6-9, 1982, there was a joint meeting of the ICC Committees on Broadcasting and Communications held in the Makivik Corporation Board Room in Montreal. A joint chairman was elected, Peter Twitchel, Yupik broadcaster from Bethel, Alaska. The group reviewed the resolutions adopted by the 1980 ICC General Assembly relating to work assigned to the group.

Various presentations were made to the group regarding ongoing and proposed communications projects in each of the countries represented. Actions were taken on these proposals and others, including request for a joint meeting with the ICC Transportation Committee, the establishment of a courier service through the airlines, easing of Inuit travel restrictions, teleconferencing of the ICC Executive Council and the 1983 ICC General Assembly, and the development of an Inuit Media Directory in which Arctic communications facilities serving the Inuit in each country are inventoried.


Resolution number 80-30 of the 1980 ICC General Assembly directed that the Communications and Broadcasting Committees be established for the purpose of inventory development of existing communications systems, and improvement of communications and broadcasting among Inuit regions.

The Executive Council later appointed the following individuals to serve on the Inuit Broadcasting Committee: Peter Frederik Rosing, Director Kalaallit Nunaata Radioa (Radio Greenland) in Nuuk, Greenland; Josepi Padlayat, President, Inuit Broadcasting Corporation, Ottawa; and Peter Twitchel, director of Community Affairs for KYUK-AM in Bethel.

The following persons were appointed by the Executive Council as members of the Inuit Committee on Communications: Henriette Rasmussen, Kalaallit Nunaata Radioa in Nuuk; William Tagoona, Director of Communications, Makivik Corp., Montreal; and Thomas Richards, Jr., Vice President of Operations, Association of Village Council Presidents, Bethel, Alaska.

Present at the meeting in Montreal were Josepi Padlayat, Peter Frederik Rosing, William Tagoona, Henriette Rasmussen, Thomas Richards, Jr., and Peter Twitchell. Also attending sessions in Montreal were William McCaughan, Director of the University of Alaska Instructional Telecommunications Consortium, Anchorage; Per Danker of Greenland Telecommunications in Nuuk; Mark T. Gordon, member of the ICC Transportation Committee and third Vice President of Makivik Corp. in Kuujjuaq (Fort Chimo), Quebec; Marianne Stenbaek, Chief Coordinator for the Committee; Hjalmar Dahl, Special Assistant to the ICC President; Jose Kusugak, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Northern Service form Rankin Inlet, NWT; Barry Cowling, Film Board of Canada; Peter Ramont, Investigative Productions, Toronto; filmmaker/ producer Jesse Nishihata of Toronto; and journalist Maria Simonsen from Nuuk, Greenland.

Committee Actions

Among other actions taken by the committee were recommendations to be made to the Executive Committee that Inuit scholarship programs be established to encourage young Inuit to pursue communications careers and that a policy of Inuit hiring be exercised in Inuit-controlled or Inuit-owned communications services.

Learn Alaska Network

William McCaughan made a presentation of the system under development by the University of Alaska. The core of this system is the “Learn Alaska Network.” The system utilizes the State of Alaska satellite network to provide instructional television programming to rural communities. during this summer, the system is being expanded to provide low-power community TV stations to 80 communities. Plans include expansion to 250 communities by 1984. One-way satellite communications presently exists for most stations. At present, four sites have uplink (two-way communications) capability: Anchorage, Kotzebue, Fairbanks, and Juneau. Within a year, 13 sites will have uplinks including Barrow, Nome, and Bethel. Eighty other stations have two-way audio conferencing capability. Communities have the capability of turning off the satellite signal and broadcasting local programs.

McCaughan indicated a cooperative interest in assisting ICC to make this technology available for audio-conferenced and teleconferenced sessions among ICC members. Later in the meeting, the committee voted to recognize McCaughan as a technical advisor to the committee.

CBC’s Northern Service

The second day of the meeting, Jose Kusugak of CBC in Rankin Inlet discussed broadcast communications among Inuit of Canada. CBC Northern Service serves Canadian Inuit through 13 stations with an annual budget of $11 million. Northern Service will celebrate its 25th anniversary in 1983. It is part of the government-funded CBC which operates on about $700 million per year. Inuit programming is contained within both divisions of CBC (English and French). Inuit broadcasters have attempted to join the two divisions with the Inuit Service Committee (ISC).

The service operates a regular programming schedule with weekday segments broadcast throughout the system on subject areas, such as Inuit youth, hunters, political development, women’s concerns, and other issues. Most radio programming is localized and broadcast in the appropriate Inuit dialects.

The Puuq Program

Inuit broadcasters have organized an Inuit broadcasting training program, which is two years old and is called the “Puuq Program.” The program has been very successful in the training and retention of Inuit broadcasters. Training includes the following subjects: 1) cross-culture, 2) pivalliajut (research), 3) creative broadcasting, 4) communications, 5) language, 6) documentary techniques, 7) technical knowledge, and 8) Inuit culture.

Kusugak noted that prior to the Puuq Program, Inuit programming was merely translating of materials provided by CBC and other sources. The Puuq training program enables Inuit broadcasters to basically design programming format and content to permit much easier comprehension among Inuit audiences. Further, the program has increased retention and reduced turnover among broadcast journalists.

ICC Communications Proposals

Barry Cowling, a film producer of the National Film Board of Canada, proposed making a film on the ICC. It could not be done without matching funds from the organization. A motion was passed to authorize the Inuit Broadcasting Corporation (IBC) to enter discussions with the Film Board on a proposal to be made at the next committee meeting.

Film maker Jesse Nishihata discussed the possibility of a global transmission of the 1983 General Assembly meeting of the ICC. He indicated that there would be strong international interest in the vent, particularly in Asia and Europe. A motion was passed to review the proposal further for action at the next meeting of the committee.

The Greenland Communications System

Peter Frederik Rosing, assisted by Per Danker and Marianne Stenbaek, made a presentation concerning the Greenlandic radio and television system. Radio Greenland was established in 1926 and celebrated its 55th anniversary last year. The system has been Inuit-controlled, and under an Inuit director, since 1958. At the present time, it is staffed with 65 persons. Training arrangements include 12 years of education opportunities. There are 16 studio technicians, all of whom are Inuit. The system is centralized and headquartered at Nuuk.

The satellite system serving Radio Greenland was established in 1969. Programming reaches all the population of Greenland (50,000 persons, of which 40,000 are Inuit) with 18 hours of daily programming. Programs are in both Greenlandic and Danish. Television broadcasting is relatively new and has been separate from Radio Greenland. Soon, however, it will be joined with Radio Greenland. The system is a combination of microwave links, DEW Line telephonic links, and satellite links. Radio Greenland is funded on an annual basis by the Home Rule Government.

The Canadian Government Meetings

For the Monday’s session, the committee moved from Montreal to Ottawa to reconvene at the Department of Communications of Canadian Government for a series of meetings with leaders of the Canadian communications industry.

The highlight of this meeting was the morning presentation by William McCaughan concerning telecommunications in Alaska. He related that the University of Alaska also has a Request for Proposals for a videotext system which the Canadian government and telecommunications industry has expressed a serious interest in. McCaughan also relayed the request of the committee that the Canadian government permit Alaska and Greenland to access the Canadian Anik satellite system to allow teleconferencing among Inuit in the three countries. The request as favorably received and directed for further consideration to Mr. Keith Chang, director of Field Trials for the Department of Communications.

The Telidon Presentation

In the afternoon, there was a presentation of the Canadian videotext system known as Telidon, by which printed materials are sent over TV or FM channels, phone lines, or cable to be printed out on a computer monitor or an adapted TV receiver. Operating much the same as a traditional computer time-sharing service, the services are made available to a much larger group of users. Next to the British and the French, the Canadian government has made the largest commitment to the development of public videotext systems. Telidon, the Canadian system, is distinguished by its ability to reproduce complicated graphics with a high degree of resolution and fidelity.

Videotext is a highly competitive field in which the parties involved, including governmental agencies, are aggressively marketing their competing systems. It was noted by the committee members that this was at least the fourth occasion at which videotext technology was demonstrated during the meeting in Canada. Both government and industry seemed anxious to arrange introduction of this new technology to Inuit communities.

Several committee members indicated that, while such technology may offer many applications for the Inuit, the first priority of the government and industry seeking to sell this new technology may wisely be to assist Inuit communications organizations in developing software and information systems adaptable to Inuit language and culture.

The Inuit Broadcasting Corporation

Back in Montreal for the final day’s session on Tuesday, June 9, the committee was given a presentation by Josepi Padlayat concerning the activities of the Inuit Broadcasting Corporation (IBC). The Inuit Broadcasting Corporation, with headquarters in Ottawa, has been recently organized as an independent Inuit company. It is independent of the Canadian government, with its own governing body. On an interim basis, IBC receives two million dollars annually from the government.

The IBC is currently engaged in film production and is currently completing two films, one about Inuit lifestyles and subsistence, the other on the Arctic Pilot Project.

Some Final Resolutions

There followed considerable discussion about the possibilities of teleconferencing between the different national groups. A motion was passed that each country prepare a written report on the technical descriptions of satellite systems in each country, identify actions necessary to make these systems accessible to Inuit organizations, and identify public officials who can make these decisions.

A motion was passed authorizing Marianne Stenbaek to coordinate a proposal for an Inuit News Service/Agency. The technology of remote computer information terminals was also discussed. It was stated that such a project is being developed by the North Slope Borough and the University of Alaska Instruction systems. Data communications takes place on under-utilized satellite channels and is much less expensive than telephone or telex systems. Such systems would make an international Inuit news summary available to Inuit communities across the Arctic, as well as instant electronic mail service.

The committee passed a motion to undertake the development of a Daily Inuit News Summary. Specific Inuit organizations were requested to undertake responsibilities for the organization of this project that will furnish news dispatches on current events to the ICC Secretariat office, which will then distribute an English summary to Radio Greenland, IBC and Bethel Broadcasting for distribution to Inuit news agencies.

A motion passed that stated that committee members in each country seek funds to send two interns from each country to work with broadcasting and journalism agencies of the other two countries. Finally, the date of the next meeting of the Communications and Broadcasting committees was set to be from August 30 to September 2, 1982, in Nuuk, Greenland.