The ABC’s of PBS: POV

Seasons: 10...
February 1, 1998

Seasons: 10

Producer: American Documentary

Viewership: 4-6 million per episode

Demographic: Male and female 18-49

Budget per hour: Pays acquisition fee or some finishing money

New programs a year: 10-12

A showcase for the most provocative programs, p.o.v. is tv’s longest-running venue for documentaries, reflecting a wide range of storytelling techniques. p.o.v. is an innovator in interactive tv, offering viewers opportunities to respond electronically, by phone, or through video letters which air on Talking Back: Video Letters to p.o.v.

Executive producer Lisa Heller has seen p.o.v.’s role evolve over the first ten seasons. ‘Originally p.o.v. made a pioneering leap to offer a showcase of independent vision. Getting the showcase was revolutionary, and creating a venue was something very new and important. As it’s evolved over the years, I think it’s turned more into a media laboratory where we can push and pull to find out what this passionate work can mean in terms of civic engagement, and what it means to think creatively about a broadcast which challenges the notion of television as a one-way medium.’

p.o.v. is an acquisition series. Every June and July, they put out an open call to producers with completed or nearly completed work. Heller says that while they like to be kept informed on projects in earlier stages of production, they can only offer a small amount of finishing money. The series is open to u.s. residents, or producers who worked in the u.s. for the length of their film. Each year, they receive over 500 submissions.

p.o.v. is less about audience numbers than impact. ‘What we want is what every viewer would want, which is a really good story, well told, with extraordinary characters, drama, a fascinating issue, great timing and a broad range of windows into contemporary life from voices and communities you don’t get to hear from very often in mainstream media.’

Heller says there is a certain feel to a project that is right for p.o.v. ‘If it’s bleeding passion, it has the p.o.v. feel.

About The Author
Jonathan Paul is a Toronto-based writer into creativity, content, advertising, tech, comics, video games, film, TV, time and space travel.