In a bid to attract younger viewers who don’t tune in to broadcast TV, PBS Digital Studios has cultivated a slate of online shows at a fraction of over-the-air production costs. The network promises its push into web video will help member stations, as well.
Judges in the 72nd annual Peabody competition selected winners as “the best in electronic media for the year 2012,” including PBS programs presented on Independent Lens, NPR’s coverage of the Syrian conflict and a ProPublica investigation produced with This American Life.
After a season of bad press following PBS’s much-maligned 2012 decision to move its flagship independent documentary program POV from Tuesday nights to Thursdays, the show will move to Mondays for its 26th season, which premieres June 24. POV announced the lineup for its new season today. The program is also building off another recent round of good news: a $1 million grant from the MacArthur Foundation on Feb. 28. Its premiere episode will be Homegoings, a documentary about Harlem undertakers that was selected as part of the New York Museum of Modern Art’s 2013 Documentary Fortnight. The lineup, with 15 national broadcast premieres and two encore presentations, will also include the Oscar-nominated Palestinian film 5 Broken Cameras on Aug.
The 90-minute feature was produced and directed by Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson, a married couple who traced the education of two African-American boys — their own son and his best friend — at a private school in Manhattan from 1999 through 2012. “All American families want to give their children the opportunity to succeed. But the truth is, opportunity is just the first step, particularly for families raising black boys,” said Stephenson. “We hope American Promise shines a light on these issues.”
The film had its world premiere at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, Jan. 21 and received the award Jan.
During a March 10 appearance at the South by Southwest Interactive conference, PBS President Paula Kerger talked the talk of digital innovation, pointing to the network’s recent successes with web-original videos, social media messaging and the unparalleled popularity of online content tied to PBS Kids.
Kind-Hearted Woman, David Sutherland’s latest documentary series for Frontline is a five-hour story of abuse and triumph for a Native American woman. His meticulous techniques for gathering and mixing sound added six months to the post-production process, yet the filmmaker says they’re a key part of his process of creating intimate documentary portraits.
The Nielsen Co., the stalwart television-ratings tracker, announced Feb. 20 that it plans to track viewing on additional devices beginning in September. The news was reported by the Hollywood Reporter. Among the media Nielsen will include are Xboxes and over-the-top devices that stream programming from services such as Amazon, according to the Reporter. In January, PBS signed a deal to bring some of its local and national programming to Xbox and over-the-top device Roku.
Palestinian documentary filmmaker Emad Burnat, whose Oscar-nominated film 5 Broken Cameras received funding from PBS’s POV, was detained Feb. 20 at Los Angeles International Airport after arriving in the country for Sunday’s Academy Awards ceremony. The news that Burnat had been held for one and a half hours was first tweeted by friend and fellow documentary filmmaker Michael Moore. Burnat later released a statement confirming that he and his family had been detained and threatened with deportation and that they had been forced to provide proof that he had been nominated for an Oscar. “Although this was an unpleasant experience, this is a daily occurrence for Palestinians, every single day, throughout the West Bank,” Burnat said.