IDNR-TV delivers natural resource industries programming to Canadian viewers
By Lisa Fattori
A Toronto-based cable television company offers a welcome reprieve from the banality of reality TV and other ho-hum mainstream programming. Established in 2003, In Depth Natural Resources Television (IDNR-TV) hit the airwaves in 2006 to provide viewers with comprehensive coverage of the country’s natural resource industries and the impact of these industries on Canadian society and the economy. The network takes a balanced, unbiased view as it profiles key players, examines issues and presents the reality of natural resources industries and the role that they play in the everyday lives of Canadians.
IDNR-TV is the brainchild of Ivor Barr, the station’s producer, who has 35 years experience in the film industry and who saw an opportunity to shine a limelight on the importance of natural resource development. “We are all professional filmmakers and I had made some films about mining,” Barr says. “I realized that this is an industry that has no voice – yet it’s such an important part of the Canadian economy. As far as I know, this is the only specialty channel about natural resources in the world.”
Available only to viewers in northern Ontario and Quebec, IDNR-TV is currently focused on providing coverage of the mining industry in these provinces. As the station achieves wider carriage and grows, Barr plans to expand programming to include all natural resource industries in regions across the country, including mining, oil and gas, forestry and fisheries.
Documentaries, programs about education, health and safety, info-tainment, news, business and current affairs is a sampling of IDNR-TV’s extensive coverage, which is helping to break down barriers and dispel preconceived notions about mining companies and how they are impacting the communities where they operate. Interviews with CEOs, analysts, workers and community citizens offer unique perspectives which neither debase nor pay lip service to corporate interests, but rather, deliver a snapshot of modern mining practices and the social responsibility that underlies resource development today in Canada.
“We are not a media that is just endorsing industry,” Barr says. “Credibility with viewers is the most important objective for a broadcaster, and we provide editorial that is independent of our sponsorships.
“Mainstream television only reports on disasters or the handful of disgruntled people who don’t want a mine in their community. In Abitibi, for example, we’ll talk to the six or seven unhappy people, but we’ll also represent the position of the other 3,794 residents who are happy with the new arena, schools and hospital in their community, which are there as a result of the economic prosperity that the local mine has brought to the area.”
Many Canadians give little thought to the raw materials that go into the consumer products that enhance their quality of life. People want their cars, electronics and gadgetry, but have a “not in my backyard” aversion to natural resource development. IDNR-TV bridges this gap with informative programs that encourage debate, discussion and understanding.
“This programming works to show people that natural resources have to be harvested responsibly in order to make the consumer goods that are integral to people’s lifestyles,” says Peter McBride, manager of communications, Ontario Mining Association. “IDNR-TV strives to correct this disconnect that many people have, particularly in urban areas.”
IDNR-TV also hosts an annual Mining Film Festival at the Cinema du Parc in Montreal. The festival is a platform to raise an awareness of the importance of the industry, through the presentation of films. It is also an occasion to pay homage to the outstanding contributions made by community leaders and members of industry, who are presented with certificates of recognition and Coup de Coeur trophies. The theme for the November 2012 festival is “Women in Mining,” which will showcase women who have made an important contribution to the industry and mining communities.
As an independent, specialized cable channel, it is difficult for IDNR-TV to expand its network and convince major carriers to give space to a television station that is dedicated to natural resources. “Natural resources are the most disliked of all sectors, so it’s a challenge to get on the dial,” Barr says. “We would like to include other natural resources in addition to mining. Other industries support their own dedicated TV stations, and we are looking for the same interest by groups and associations in natural resources. I would encourage companies and organizations to contact their cable and satellite companies to request IDNR-TV. We have a very large following, but need this support in order to grow.”