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Future of Public Media

PBS and WNET Keep Independent Documentary in Primetime

After months of public and private discussion that raised fundamental questions about the purpose of public TV, PBS and WNET have struck an agreement to support the public TV series that showcase diverse, independent voices: Independent Lens and POV. Read more...

Diverse Voices Matter for Public Television

Indie Caucus SpeakeasyIndependent filmmakers are preparing to hear whether WNET and PBS officials will make any changes to programming decisions after engaging in a National Listening Tour.  In a recent The Pub podcast, WNET Vice President for Programming Stephen Segaller referred to feedback from the Listening Tour as “predictable,” “unanimous,” and filmmaker backlash to change, despite the many testimonials that came from constituents beyond the documentary community. Look no further than the New York Times Op-Ed by legendary American television writer and producer Norman Lear, “Is PBS Neglecting Its Mission?”

What was the “predictable” message delivered from community members and filmmakers alike? Read more...

Roundup: PBS and Indies at SXSW

Photo by PBS via FacebookAt 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...