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Inuktakao Sataa shows off a puppet of a hunter's dog for the Inuit Broadcasting Corporation's Inuktitut language show, Takuginai, which airs on APTN. APTN will ask the CRTC to allow the network to devote more airtime to aboriginal language programming. - NNSL file photo

Juggling act

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services

Rankin Inlet (Mar 28/05) - The Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) will be trying to pull off a difficult juggling act as it moves towards attracting more advertisers while, at the same time, lobbying the CRTC to reduce its mandatory English programming content.

APTN chief executive officer Jean LaRose says the ratio of 60 per cent English content was imposed on the APTN by the CRTC and the five-year-old network feels that number is too high.

"When we go before the CRTC in the spring, we will be making a request to increase the proportion of aboriginal languages," says LaRose.

"Increasing the proportion of aboriginal languages is one component of our seven-year plan."

LaRose says the APTN's board of directors has instructed its management team to find more advertising dollars for the network to be able to buy more productions and to help the production sector.

He says advertisers want to buy airtime on shows that reach the widest audience possible.

"Right now, we just don't have the money to do everything our audience wants," LaRose said. "We have suffered from a lack of enriching advertising - for lack of a better term - because most advertisers felt the APTN was a niche market with very little audience for their products.

"They felt it was viewed by an aboriginal audience who wouldn't buy their products anyways.

"We're trying to show them that this perception is absolutely false."

LaRose says many aboriginals are now major players in areas of economic development.

He says Iqaluit's growth during the past five years is a prime example of new economic development opportunities in the North - and the type of demographic he wants to make advertisers aware of.

"If we want to get companies to advertise on our network, we have to show them the audience they're trying to reach is the same audience watching the APTN.

"The demographic information advertisers look for is something we're striving to determine.

"At the same time, we need producers to give us programming that will help us raise enough revenue so that, down the road, we'll be able to pay them enough of a license fee to produce what they want without having to cut corners."