WNET is making headlines over pulling documentary showcases Independent Lens and POV from its main channel. The Indie Caucus, an informal group of independent filmmakers organized in support of the public media mission, responded with a statement and Change.org petition.
The documentary series are being moved by WNET from their primetime spots on Monday evenings at 10 p.m. on WNET's main channel 13, to Sunday nights at 11 p.m. The series will air on the station's secondary channel 21, WLIW with a smaller coverage area. See full reporting on the changes by Dru Sefton of Current.org.
The move is considered a major signifier for filmmakers as WNET is one of the biggest public television markets in the country. The changes have the potential to influence additional markets and affect the ITVS (programmer for Independent Lens) and POV competitive advantage for acquisitions.
Realscreen's Manori Ravindran quotes POV's Simon Kilmurry as indicating that the move will dramatically impact audiences' ability to find their content when WLIW's coverage reaches just 50% of the WNET channel 13 market. The reduced coverage will additionally impact their ability to secure adequate press coverage for films in "a golden age for the form."
The December 19 public statement from the Indie Caucus implores WNET to "keep the public in public television" and describes the WNET decisions as an "outrage" given the station's responsbility to "set a best standard precedent for the PBS network of stations."
The Change.org petition to President & CEO, WNET New York Public Media Neal Shapiro, to return the documentary showcases to their 10 p.m. timeslot on the primary channel, has acquired over 500 signatories with a goal of 1000.
After over 1,100 supporters signed the Change.org petition, WNET announced a reversal of it's scheduling decision on December 23, 2014.