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Roundup: PBS and Indies at SXSW

#PBSAnywhereAt SXSW, PBS made a bigger splash than usual at the media/tech mecca, with seven (!) panels and three fest films. At the new-this-year PBS Lounge (swag, free beer, comfy couches, selfies posted direct to Net), you could meet filmmakers of the three PBS premieres. PBS also announced investment in theatricals. And more than two dozen PBSers were on hand to court indies. 

But it joined a throng of distributors—not just broadcasters but also online platforms—doing the same thing. At the same time, it couldn’t say what indies wanted to hear, and it demonstrated its own version of a digital divide. Read more...

Testify: Community Voices on Public TV and Diversity

PubTV ForumAn open forum on the future for independent, diverse voices on public TV packed the theater and featured testimony from dozens of people. The common theme: communities expect public TV to showcase diverse perspectives on important but often overlooked issues in primetime. 

The issue that drew them all to the School of Communication’s theater on a frigid February evening was PBS’ commitment to Independent Lens and POV, two series that feature diverse, independent voices on important but underrepresented public issues. In late December, just before the winter holidays began, WNET announced that it would drop the series from its primetime lineup on its primary station in New York—the largest market in the country. PBS was unsure whether the series would stay in their primetime slot—especially given the pullout by the largest-market station—when the new season is announced in May. Read more...

Indies Talking, Public TV Listening

Media That Matters 2015When indie filmmakers talk to public TV officials on Feb. 19 at the Media That Matters conference, they’ll be bringing up longstanding issues for public broadcasting: diversity and representation.

The free, public hearing on Feb. 19 will showcase the voices not only of filmmakers like Black Public Media’s Jacquie Jones and renowned cinematographer Gary Griffin, but also legislators such as Cong. Donna Edwards, and representatives of communities and constituencies that benefit from indie perspectives on public broadcasting. They include members of nonprofits such as the DC Alliance of Youth Advocates, and funders such as Joy Thomas Moore of the Annie E. Casey FoundationRead more...

Sundance Panel Showcases Indies' Issues with Public TV

DocbustersWhether PBS and WNET will feature the TV series Independent Lens and POV in primetime on primary channels was brought up at the Sundance Film Festival Panel "DOCBUSTERS: Your Creative Vision and the Power of the PBS Audience," hosted by WNET and PBS on Saturday, January 24. Read more...

6 Reasons Why Indie Filmmakers Still Care If They’re on TV

POV DocsDoes anyone still need broadcast TV to reach an audience? I mean, hello, YouTube, and hey there, Amazon Prime.

That’s the question that hit independent documentary filmmakers across the country in late December, when it looked like the two public TV series that carry indie docs—Independent Lens and POV—might get moved to the programming equivalent of Siberia. A 1,200 signature petition changed WNET and PBS’s minds for the moment, and prompted a nation-wide listening tour. The first event on the tour, in San Francisco, packed a room with more than 200 people, speaking about how indie film on public TV makes a difference to soldiers, moms, vets, immigrants, young people and more.

But in a cord-cutting world, why are indie filmmakers so passionate about public TV? Read more...