A Statement from Indie Caucus: Keep the Public in Public Television

A Statement from Indie Caucus, An Organization Of America's Independent Filmmakers // December 19, 2014 KEEP THE PUBLIC IN PUBLIC TELEVISION DON’T LET WNET LEAD PBS AWAY FROM ITS MISSION OF BRINGING DIVERSE VOICES AND ENGAGING ISSUES TO THE PUBLIC WNET’s sudden decision to move Independent Lens and POV off the established 10pm Monday Thirteen/WNET schedule is an outrage. WNET needs to move Independent Lens and POV back on THIRTEEN in primetime, to best serve its public and to set a best standard precedent for the PBS network of stations. PBS champions these series as the premier platform for independent voices and diverse stories on public television. This move by WNET amounts to the removal of independent voices from primetime TV by the station, and marks a suppression of remarkable yet marginalized American voices and their audiences. Putting these documentary series back on Monday nights on THIRTEEN is crucial to serving WNET’s mandate to be a truly public TV service. WNET, as a central conduit for PBS, was founded to represent the complicated fabric of the U.S. and our many independent voices. PBS prides itself as a broadcast leader that serves Americans through documentaries that open up new worlds. It is WNET’s responsibility to ensure that marginalized and independent voices have equal opportunity in public media to reach audiences. Thirteen/WNET serves an audience twice as large as secondary WLIW, where these programs have been shunted. Thirteen/WNET programming accounts for the largest audiences for most of these diverse programs. Taxpayer dollars make WNET viable. Independent Lens and POV programs showcase the diversity of America, with major award-winning documentaries such as the three part series A Path Appears, the follow up to multi-award winning Half the Sky by Pulitzer Prize winning journalists Sheryl WuDunn and Nicholas Kristof; critics’ favorite The Great Invisible by Margaret Brown, about the Gulf Oil spill; and a possible Best Documentary Academy Award contender The Kill Team, about the causes and consequences of war crimes. It is richly ironic that the first program impacted is Sundance Grand Jury winner Rich Hill, a film that focuses on marginalized young people struggling with poverty. The second film is the multiple award-winning Evolution of a Criminal by Darius Clark Monroe, with Executive Producer Spike Lee, which brings a unique perspective to our country’s dialogue about race and criminal justice. These top-tier, highly acclaimed productions deal with important issues rarely explored in American media. They offer point-of-view stories, which awaken empathy, incite awareness, and make connections: among others, teen homelessness; rural poverty; ecological crisis; untold African-American history; and military injustice. Independent Lens and POV's programming not only drives these national conversations, they come with robust social action campaigns and other educational materials that facilitate better conversations among citizens about how to address the important issues facing a democracy. The announcement of this move came with no warning to the public or the independent community and only two weeks before the scheduled Independent Lens start date. WNET shows a lack of respect for the independent voices that richly contribute to the public discourse for which public television was created. This move also represents a careless dismissal of donors, foundations and institutions who have been dedicated to supporting the broader mission of public television for decades, and who have a profound understanding of the need to protect independent voices in public media. WNET, return Independent Lens and companion series POV back to THIRTEEN at 10pm Monday nights. Treat your audience and this nation’s independent and diverse voices with the respect they deserve from the public television they fund. TAKE ACTION: Add your name to our list of supporters at our change.org petition here. Tell PBS to support and promote point-of-view documentary: Write Paula Kerger, President and CEO of PBS, at pakerger@pbs.org or submit your comments to the PBS Ombudsperson here. Tell WNET to put top-tier documentary back on THIRTEEN on Monday nights: Write or call Neal Shapiro, President and CEO of WNET, at ShapiroN@thirteen.org / 212-560-1313. Go to indiecaucus.org for template emails. Sign up for updates and show your support by adding your name to our list of supporters. Email us: indiecaucus@gmail.com Twitter: @indiecaucus / #indiecaucus / #keepPBSpublic / #PBSneedsindies Facebook.com/indiecaucus SIGNED: Indie Caucus Founding members Steven Bognar, Katy Chevigny, Johanna Hamilton, Tim Horsburgh, Byron Hurt, Brad Lichtenstein, Paco de Onis, Dawn Porter, Gordon Quinn, Julia Reichert, Bernardo Ruiz, Carlos Sandoval, Pamela Yates. Independent Lens 2015 Filmmakers Johanna Hamilton // 1971 Julie Goldman // 1971 Marilyn Ness // 1971 Llewellyn Smith // AMERICAN DENIAL Christine Herbes-Sommers // AMERICAN DENIAL Kelly Thomson // AMERICAN DENIAL Wendy Riseborough // AMERICAN DENIAL Justin Weinstein // AN HONEST LIAR Lee Hirsch // BULLY Cynthia Lowen // BULLY Catherine Gund // BORN TO FLY Jessican Ruffin // BORN TO FLY Diane Hotzberg // BORN TO FLY Tanya Selvaratnam // BORN TO FLY Kyoko Miyake // BRAKELESS Darius Clark Monroe // EVOLUTION OF A CRIMINAL Jen Gatien // EVOLUTION OF A CRIMINAL Margaret Brown // THE GREAT INVISIBLE Pamela Ryan // THE GREAT INVISIBLE Thomas Balmes // HAPPINESS Anne De Mare // THE HOMESTRETCH Kirsten Kelly // THE HOMESTRETCH Dan Krauss // THE KILL TEAM Linda Davis // THE KILL TEAM Thomas Miller // LIMITED PARTNERSHIP Karen Hori // LIMITED PARTNERSHIP Theo Love // LITTLE HOPE WAS ARSON Bryan Storkel // LITTLE HOPE WAS ARSON Trent Waterson // LITTLE HOPE WAS ARSON Lacey Schwartz // LITTLE WHITE LIE Mehret Mandefro // LITTLE WHITE LIE Geeta V. Patel // MEET THE PATELS Ravi Patel // MEET THE PATELS Janet Eckholm // MEET THE PATELS Renee Tajima-Peña // NO MORE BABIES FOR LIFE Maro Chermayeff // A PATH APPEARS: FROM THE CREATORS OF HALF THE SKY Joshua Bennett // A PATH APPEARS: FROM THE CREATORS OF HALF THE SKY Fahad Mustafa // POWERLESS Deepti Kakkar // POWERLESS Tracy Droz Tragos // RICH HILL Andrew Palermo // RICH HILL Thomas Allen Harris // THROUGH A LENS DARKLY Mona Friis Bertheussen // TWIN SISTERS POV 2015 Filmmakers Tod Lending // ALL THE DIFFERENCE Mark Becker // ART AND CRAFT Jennifer Grausman // ART AND CRAFT Sam Cullman // ART AND CRAFT Zachary Heinzerling // CUTIE AND THE BOXER Blar Doors-Walther // OUT IN THE NIGHT Jesse Moss // THE OVERNIGHTERS Marshall Curry // POINT AND SHOOT Elizabeth Martin // POINT AND SHOOT Yance Ford // STRONG ISLAND Stephanie Wang-Breal // TOUGH LOVE Carrie Weprin // TOUGH LOVE Additional supporters