Kartemquin Films, a nonprofit Chicago production company that's home to such films as The Interrupters and Hoop Dreams, is asking independent filmmakers and pubmedia fans to sign an open letter to PBS protesting the network's decision to move indie showcases Independent Lens and P.O.V. from their longtime Tuesday night spot to Thursdays, often used by stations for local programming (Current, March 12, 2012).
The letter says that independent films "serve a critical function in the public broadcasting ecology. They serve the democratic mission of public broadcasting."
"Public television is not just a popularity contest, or a ratings game," it says. "Taxpayers support public broadcasting because democracy needs more than commercial media’s business models can provide. PBS’ programming decision makes a statement about PBS’ commitment to the mission of public broadcasting."
It concludes: "We are deeply concerned that PBS’ poorly-considered decision could jeopardize both the meeting of public broadcasting’s mission and also stifle the innovation that is crucial to the future of public broadcasting."
UPDATE: Gordon Quinn, artistic director and co-founder of Kartemquin, told Current that as talks at PBS on the future of the two series move forward, "we'd like to be kept in the loop and become part of the discussion." The independent filmmaking community is "very concerned" about both shows, he said, not only because they carry so much of their work but also because "they are really a vital part of attracting diverse and younger audiences to PBS."