After it revealed last week that it would be pulling PBS doc strands ‘Independent Lens’ and ‘POV’ from its Monday night primetime line-up on channel Thirteen in January, New York-based PBS station WNET is to keep at least one of the doc showcases in its Monday slot for the time being.
The station last week revealed it would begin airing the strands on WNET’s secondary channel WLIW21 on Mondays at 10 p.m. – which was the strands’ original primetime slot on Thirteen – with repeats broadcast during an 11 p.m. slot on Sundays on Thirteen. The station was to encore its Friday night arts programming on Thirteen on Mondays, in place of ‘Independent Lens’ and ‘POV.’
In a statement shared with realscreen, WNET – which was to implement the shifts on January 5 – has stated that it is working with teams from PBS, ITVS, ‘Independent Lens’ and ‘POV’ to “develop a national strategy to raise the profile for independent film on public television and to reinforce PBS as the home for indies.”
“Together, we will be hosting a listening tour with independent filmmakers across the country to engage producers, stations and other stakeholders in the process,” the statement reads.
While these discussions are under way, the station says it will continue broadcasting ‘Independent Lens’ at 10 p.m. on Mondays on channel Thirteen. It is unclear whether the doc showcases will also air on WLIW21.
In response to the move, the Indie Caucus – a group that acts as a collective voice representing independent filmmakers among broadcast, programming and funding partners in public media – encouraged concerned viewers to sign a Change.org petition and write to PBS CEO and president Paula Kerger and WNET president and CEO Neal Shapiro.
The petition has garnered – at time of publication – 1,203 supporters thus far.
Indie Caucus said in a statement on Monday (December 22) that, “WNET’s decision to return ‘Independent Lens’ and ‘POV’ to the schedule on Monday nights, after hearing from 1,195 viewers, donors and filmmakers in the few days since December 19, is good news for all viewers. But it is particularly good news for those whose voices are underrepresented in American media. Independent, point-of-view documentary anchors public television’s promise to provide diverse perspectives from and for underrepresented voices in American media.
“We expect these partners to consult us and other filmmakers, and also members and representatives of under-represented communities, as they do the listening tour that they promise over the next four months,” it said.