Public television is deciding whether or not to keep two series that showcase independent, point-of-view films in their premier prime-time slot on Monday nights at 10 pm. The final decision will be announced in May. Until then, PBS programming leadership is taking a “listening tour” to hear stakeholders and viewers talk about why independent, point-of-view filmmaking is important to them and public broadcasting’s mission.
In late 2014, WNET, the flagship PBS station in New York, announced plans to move POV and Independent Lens from their premier prime-time slot on WNET to secondary channel WLIW in Long Island. They planned on rerunning the series on WNET on Sunday nights. Such a move would have drastically marginalized work about and by underrepresented communities, and set a dangerous precedent. Indie Caucus organized a protest, and 1,200 people signed a petition. WNET and PBS agreed to postpone their decision for four months, and agreed to a lead a listening tour.
Why does it matter? Independent storytelling by and about underrepresented voices in American media is a core part of public television. Sharing diverse perspectives isn’t just what sets public media apart, it’s what PBS stations are mandated to do as part of their commitment to serve communities. Broadcast is still overwhelmingly how Americans get their TV, and it’s the most diverse audience as well.
WNET and their counterparts at PBS are using a traveling “listening tour” to hear stakeholders and viewers talk about why independent, point-of-view filmmaking is important to them and public broadcasting’s mission. The next “Listening Tour” event will be in Chicago on March 23 (3pm – 6pm CDT)
What can you do? Let PBS know that you value POV and Independent Lens, and why. Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Support a resolution calling for PBS to support the indie series. Tweet and Facebook your support to @PBS and at #keepPBSpublic, #indiecaucus.
CHICAGO LISTENING TOUR
March 23 (3pm – 6pm CDT)
@ Chicago Cultural Center – 78 E. Washington St., Chicago IL 60602
The event is presented by PBS, ITVS – Independent Television Service, POV, Thirteen WNET New York, Kartemquin Films, Independent Lens | PBS, WTTW Channel 11, 371 Productions, Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events, Chicago Film Office.