Tribe donates $6 million to California affiliate for first 24-hour Native channel

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KVCR-TV in San Bernardino, Calif., has received a $6 million donation from the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians to fund the nation’s first full-time Native American channel, reports the Desert Sun newspaper. “We fully anticipate this channel to become a model for public television programming across the country,” said Larry Ciecalone, president of the PBS affiliate. James Ramos, chairman of the San Manuel Band, said the channel supports the tribe’s mission of “eradicating stereotypes that often stem from inaccurate depictions of American Indians in commercial television.” He said content will be Native-produced film and television, providing potential work for actors and storytellers. The donation will come in three installments of $2 million over the first three years of the channel, called First Voices. Tribe and KVCR reps will sit on the channel’s board. The San Manuel also gave $1.5 million to KVCR during the digital transition, which enabled the expansion from one to six channels. Launch date for First Voices is spring of 2011.

UPDATE: Loris Taylor, exec director of Native Public Media, told Current in a statement: “San Manuel Band of Mission Indian’s investment into KVCR public television demonstrates how extra digital channels can be used to provide service to unserved populations. This will be the first TV channel to provide important Native American programming not only for San Manuel but other tribes in the area. A strong and healthy information ecology is critically important to the nation building efforts of Tribes and every time another facility is added to our pool of broadcast assets, our system grows stronger. Native Public Media is happy to extend its assistance to Chairman Ramos of San Manuel in this historic endeavor.”

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