PBS fund searching for Explorer-friendly pitches

PBS has launched a new $20 million Diversity and Innovation Fund, with an aim to create a weekly primetime series directed at its target audience archetype, dubbed 'The Explorer.'
July 22, 2010

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and PBS have created the Diversity and Innovation Fund, a new $20 million project seeking proposals for a weekly primetime series that reflects the diversity of PBS’ target age group while reaching beyond television.

The ideal proposals should be multi-platform projects that extend beyond traditional broadcasting to function within new content distribution tools such as VOD, Internet, social media, mobile applications and DVD. According to Jan McNamara, PBS’ director of corporate communications, the public broadcaster’s on-air audience reflects the overall U.S. population with respect to race and ethnicity, education and income, while PBS online, however, attracts a greater proportion of African-Americans, Asian Americans and Latinos. Thus, the new fund aims to meet the needs of PBS’ diverse audience by creating programming that can live on equally diverse platforms.

‘The creation of the Diversity and Innovation Fund marks the first time PBS and CPB have committed such a significant amount specifically to attracting more racially and ethnically diverse viewers, Web visitors and producers,’ says McNamara. If the talent and creativity of producers from minority communities is given leverage, than PBS can continually build support for the public media system within them. ‘We are proud of our reach and we want to expand it among our audience and the producers we work with.’

PBS is seeking proposals for 10-episode series within the genres of history, science, travel, natural history and exploration that can be produced for $375,000 or less, per hour. Several projects will be selected to create a pilot, with one or more chosen for series production in winter 2010/2011. In the future, the Diversity and Innovation Fund may seek to support other types of projects, such as digital initiatives, education initiatives and gaming.

The RFP issued by CPB and PBS encourages producers to include within their proposals characteristics embodied by what the pubcaster calls ‘The Explorer’ archetype – a psychographic that PBS says best identifies viewers within its target age group, 40 to 64. ‘Research shows that people in this age cohort have a tendency to look outward for opportunities for personal growth and fulfillment,’ says McNamara.

The final deadline for DI Fund proposals applications is September 15, 2010. For more information please visit: //

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