On May 10th, founding member and Artistic Director of Kartemquin Films Gordon Quinn will be speaking at the panel "Doc U: The Future of Docs on PBS" in Los Angeles. The panel, sponsored by the International Documentary Association, will address the future of public broadcasting and independent documentary programming in light of recent heavy cuts to PBS' nonfiction programming by the National Endowment for the Arts and uncertainties regarding the scheduling of two PBS programs, Independent Lens and POV. Quinn will be joined by Simon Kilmurry (executive director of American Documentary | POV), Brenda Brkusic (executive producer of PBS SoCal), and Lyn Goldfarb (Academy Award-nominated documentarian). Register to attend.
Last October, at the start of their current season of programming, PBS shifted Independent Lens from its normal Tuesday night slot to Thursday nights, which had immediate ramifications. Independent Lens saw its ratings drop 42%, since PBS moved Independent Lens off their main programming, effectively forcing local broadcasters to put the show on wherever they could on the most competitive weeknight for programming. PBS also announced that the same change would occur to POV. Both Independent Lens and POV bring independent documentaries to millions of people for free, drawing widespread attention to some of the most pressing social, cultural, and political issues of the day.
Kartemquin, as a long-time supporter of public broadcasting, posted an open letter to PBS in reaction to these shifts, urging the network to reconsider their decision. This effort quickly spread and gained support from filmmakers and organizations across the country. The International Documentary Association pledged their support, and Kartemquin launched a Twitter campaign, #PBSNeedsIndies. Facing increasing public pressure and media attention, PBS announced that they would reconsider their scheduling for the next season.
In a continuation of these efforts, a committee of filmmakers and those associated with documentary production formed to create a steering committee in order to streamline efforts to support documentary programming on PBS. A second open letter to PBS followed on April 3rd. Given the recent announcement of budget cuts by the National Endowment for the Arts, however, the issues surrounding PBS and its support for documentaries still remain up in the air. The panel aims to foster discussion and public awareness of the need for support on the part of public broadcasting for the documentary world.
To show your support for our continued efforts, you can:
1) commenting below on why you value documentary programming
2) add your name to our open letter by emailing us at PBSNeedsIndies@kartemquin.com
3) tweet #PBSNeedsIndies to us on Twitter
4) contact your local station to ask them to support regular primetime scheduling for Independent Lens and POV