Happy Mondays! PBS announces new night for documentary strands

Kartemquin is delighted that PBS today announced a new regular spot on their schedule - Mondays at 10pm - for documentary strands Independent Lens and POV.

This move is the culmination of months of negotiation between PBS and the programs after they were moved away from their regular Tuesday night timeslots and subsequently lost a large amount of viewers. In response, Kartemquin and other independent documentary filmmakers mounted the PBS Needs Indies campaign to signal our concern over the fate of documentary programming on PBS.

Our open letter from March 15, 2012 had an immediate impact on the negotiations, with PBS signalling a week later that they were reconsidering the scheduling move. Today's announcement by PBS of a regular Monday timeslot is a significant indication that PBS has listened to the over 1,200 filmmakers and viewers who have signed or commenters the original open letter, and respects the importance of these programs in fulfilling the fundamental mission of public broadcasting.

We're also most pleased by PBS' announcement of a "multiplatform film festival" celebrating documentary films from Independent Lens and POV, part of a signalled intent to do more to publicly promote the enjoyment of independent films.

This announcement should not be seen as marking the end of the PBS Needs Indies committee's advocacy on behalf of broadcast documentary, but as an opportunity to keep the energy of the PBS Needs Indies campaign going, and to ensure that local stations and independent filmmakers are allies in advancing and celebrating the great documentary films shown on PBS. PBS has recognized the importance of giving indies a national platform, and we in turn recognize and value their importance in providing it. As Kartemquin's Artistic Director Gordon Quinn states in the press release, “We are happy that PBS has chosen this exciting way forward and we stand ready to support the new strategy and PBS in every way we can.”

We now encourage filmmakers and viewers to support this move and support PBS, your local station and these programs in their new timeslot. Let your local stations know that you are looking for this programming at 10pm on Monday nights, and contact them if you do not see it there!

If you're in the Los Angeles area, you can keep the discussion going tomorrow night (May 10th) at Doc U: The Future of Docs on PBS, an event hosted by the International Documentary Association at the CineFamily. Join Simon Kilmurry, Executive Producer of American Documentary | POV; Lyn Goldfarb, award-winning documentary director and producer; Gordon Quinn, Artistic Director and founding member of Kartemquin Films; Lois Vossen, founding and Senior Series Producer of Independent Lens; and Brenda Brkusic, Executive Producer of Program Development and National Productions at PBS SoCaL. It promises to be an engaging conversation: get tickets.

More on PBS Needs Indies, including a full list of media coverage since March 12.

 

Read the full PBS press release from today:

 

PBS, ITVS AND POV UNVEIL STRATEGY FOR MISSION-FOCUSED CONTENT AND NEW BROADCAST NIGHT FOR LANDMARK INDIE SERIES

ARLINGTON, VA, May 9, 2012 - PBS, ITVS and POV today announced a new strategy
to bolster the mission-focused, independently produced content centered largely around
its landmark series POV and Independent Lens, which together provide a year-round
broadcast footprint for independent filmmakers on public television. Both series will air
in a new timeslot on Monday nights at 10:00 pm starting this fall with the premiere of
Independent Lens on October 29.

“The Monday night schedule gives us an opportunity to drive new and larger audiences
on-air and online to the diverse and innovative content that independents bring to PBS,”
said Paula Kerger, president and CEO of PBS.

In addition to the regular Monday night broadcasts of both series (Independent Lens
October through June, and POV June through October), PBS plans to develop a
multiplatform film festival for mid-2013, which would showcase independent programs
from both series during several weeks of broadcast presentations that would connect TV
audiences with online and mobile content, and digital users, who are often younger and
more diverse, with opportunities to participate locally with their public television stations.

The digital component of the multiplatform film festival builds on a recent PBS online film
festival that drew from independent content providers and attracted more than 300,000
viewers on YouTube and the PBS.org website. “The online film festival is only one
example of how we can extend the reach of these important programs through efforts
that go beyond broadcast,” added Kerger.

“We are thrilled with PBS’s decision to move the programs to Mondays as part of an
overall strategy for independent programs,” said Simon Kilmurry, Executive Director of
POV. “Filmmakers and viewers will benefit from a public television experience that fully
embraces the power and impact of independent documentaries.”

“By broadcasting indies’ mission-focused stories on Monday nights, we hope that more
PBS viewers will have the opportunity to engage in the community and educational
activities that independent films inspire,” said Sally Jo Fifer, president and CEO of ITVS,
which produces Independent Lens. “We also bring the diverse communities reflected
in and served by indies' work home to PBS and support the core mission of public
broadcasting.”

Gordon Quinn of Kartemquin films, one of the nation’s leading independent production
houses, said, “We are happy that PBS has chosen this exciting way forward and we
stand ready to support the new strategy and PBS in every way we can.”

About PBS
PBS, with its nearly 360 member stations, offers all Americans the opportunity to explore
new ideas and new worlds through television and online content. Each month, PBS
reaches nearly 123 million people through television and more than 21 million people
online, inviting them to experience the worlds of science, history, nature and public
affairs; to hear diverse viewpoints; and to take front row seats to world-class drama and
performances. PBS’ broad array of programs has been consistently honored by the
industry’s most coveted award competitions. Teachers of children from pre-K through
12th grade turn to PBS for digital content and services that help bring classroom lessons
to life. PBS’ premier children’s TV programming and its website, pbskids.org, are
parents’ and teachers’ most trusted partners in inspiring and nurturing curiosity and love
of learning in children. More information about PBS is available at www.pbs.org, one of
the leading dot-org websites on the Internet, or by following PBS on Twitter, Facebook or
through our apps for mobile devices. Specific program information and updates for press
are available at pbs.org/pressroom or by following PBS Pressroom on Twitter.

About American Documentary | POV
Produced by American Documentary, Inc. and celebrating its 25th season on PBS in
2012, the award-winning POV series is the longest-running showcase on American
television to feature the work of today’s best independent documentary filmmakers.
Airing June through October with primetime specials during the year, POV has brought
more than 325 acclaimed documentaries to millions nationwide and has a Webby
Award-winning online series, POV’s Borders. Since 1988, POV has pioneered the art of
presentation and outreach using independent nonfiction media to build new communities
in conversation about today’s most pressing social issues. Visit www.pbs.org/pov.

About ITVS
Independent Television Service funds, presents and promotes award-winning
documentaries and dramas on public television, innovative new media projects on the
Web, and the Emmy® Award-winning weekly series Independent Lens on Thursday
nights at 10 PM on PBS. Mandated by Congress in 1988 and funded by the Corporation
for Public Broadcasting, ITVS has brought more than 1,000 independently produced
programs to date to American audiences. For more information about ITVS, visit itvs.org.

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Contacts:
Anne Bentley, PBS, 703-739-5021; awbentley@pbs.org
Cathy Fisher, American Documentary | POV, 212-989-7425, Ext. 320; cfisher@pov.org
Dennis Palmieri, ITVS, 415-356-8383, Ext. 256; dennis_palmieri@itvs.org