The Arctic may seem a daunting place to many, but to Taqramiut Nipingat Inc (TNI), the Inuit regional broadcaster, it is an opportunity. More than that – it is a mandate. “We do things nobody else does,” explains Julie Grenier, TNI’s Production Director, “Documentaries about our people and our region’s culture, traditions and activities: like mussel-picking under the ice; Arctic Winter Games; educational children’s programming in our native language, Inuktitut.”
In fact 100% of TNI’s programming is produced in Inuktitut, the language of Nunavik (also known as Arctic Quebec). TNI produces more than 30 documentaries a year, including some that are broadcast on the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN).
TNI serves an audience of about 12,000 people, spread out over 14 communities that are so remote you can’t reach them by road. You have to fly – and from Montreal to TNI’s head office in Salluit the airfare alone can cost around $4,000. Logistics make communication challenging, but all the more essential.
“It was a huge investment, but every community is now connected,” Grenier says of the development of TNI’s operations. Known as the “Voice of the North”, TNI began in the mid-1970s with radio, and gradually expanded to TV. Because the network’s outer reaches are so remote, installation and repair of anything becomes that much harder, and far more expensive.
Thus began TNI’s search for an alternative to satellite transmission. The decision to switch over to IP was not without some hesitation. Internet is very limited in Nunavik. There is only one provider and the basic speed is 128kbps up and 512kbps down. Still, the initial transfer of radio broadcasts to IP has been a success, and TNI is turning its attention to TV over IP.
“We had to find a solution that would allow us to continue broadcasting without the crazy satellite costs,” says Grenier. TNI began testing IP broadcast in a single community, with the TelVue HyperCaster IP broadcast server and TelVue Connect cloud video management. Because of the remoteness of the network, the testing phase is still ongoing after two years. But Grenier is hopeful about expanding IP broadcast to the rest of the Nunavik communities by next March.
In the meantime, Grenier has her hands full developing partnerships, producing TNI’s Inuktitut-language content, and running what has to be one of the most unique broadcast operations in the world.