Check Out Can’t Hold Me Back: A PBS Online Film Festival Selection

Documenting stories of inspiration and justice, Madeleine Blair and Betty Bastidas founded Maracuya Productions with the hope to bring about change. Their short film Can’t Hold Me Back, is a part of the American Graduate initiative, and is currently streaming as part of the PBS Online Film Festival.

Watch 2013 Festival | Can’t Hold Me Back on PBS. See more from PBS Online Film Festival.

Can’t Hold Me Back follows Fernando Parraz as he becomes the first in his family to earn a high school diploma, which is his ticket out of the struggles of inner-city poverty and violence. With a mountain of roadblocks stacked against his educational achievement, Fernando finds support from an unlikely figure: his father — a former gangster who has suffered the costs of his own mistakes.

This short film is a part of the American Graduate Initiative supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). This long-term public media initiative is dedicated to helping communities implement solutions to the high school dropout crisis. American Graduate demonstrates public media’s commitment to education and its deep roots in every community it serves.

Watch Can’t Hold Me Back and VOTE for the 2013 PBS Online Film Festival People’s Choice Winner.

Don’t Miss the Deadline for the 2013 CPB/PBS Producers Academy

The deadline for the 2013 CPB/PBS Producers Academy at WGBH is Friday, December 14, 2012. To apply for this intensive training program in public broadcasting, please visit the official website.

For the past 11 years, CPB and PBS have offered a Producers Academy that provides intensive training in public broadcasting production. Many talented individuals have emerged from this workshop, finding success on various public broadcasting platforms.

25 individuals will be offered the opportunity to go to this year’s workshop at WGBH-Boston from Saturday March 30 through April 5, 2013. The goal of the Producers Academy is to encourage a diverse and talented group of producers to create new and greater programming achievements in public broadcasting. The firm deadline for interested applicants is Friday, December 14, 2012.

This weeklong seminar is free and open to media makers nationwide who want to develop skills and connections in public broadcasting. Over the seven-day period, participants can expect to attend intensive courses that cover a wide range of production skills, building on the expertise that has made PBS a well-known and respected American cultural outlet. Continue reading

Women and Girls Lead Goes to Washington!

The countdown to the national broadcast of Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide is well underway!

The National Press Club, September 11, 2012 (photo credit: Joyce Boghosian)

“Half the Sky amplifies voices and powerful stories from the global movement for gender equity,” said Sally Jo Fifer, ITVS president and CEO. “We’re thrilled to join CPB and Show of Force in co-presenting, along with other partners, events that will bring together the people who can truly help change lives in the U.S. and abroad.”

What a week it has been for ITVS and Women and Girls Lead in Washington DC! Last week, ITVS hosted a series of high-profile events, in partnership with CPB, to celebrate the launch of Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, airing October 1 and 2 on Independent Lens.

The first event took place at The National Press Club on September 11th, followed by an evening reception hosted by the Meridian International Center on September 12th. The third event was a special screening in the Russell Senate Building on September 13th, marking our second Capitol Hill screening this year! Continue reading

ITVS Prepares for Beta Tests of Enhanced OVEE

By Dru Sefton
Originally published on 

Web engagement tool provides platform for virtual dialogue

An infusion of CPB funding is allowing the Independent Television Service to add more features to OVEE, the online engagement tool that ITVS calls “the world’s first fully functional social screening platform.”

The latest version of OVEE features a customizable strip with a “Donate” button for stations. “Imagine a Downton Abbey screening with [creator] Julian Fellowes online,” said Dennis Palmieri of ITVS. “OVEE can do that.”

“No other media outlet has this,” said Dennis Palmieri, director of innovation and media strategy for San Francisco–based ITVS. The Online Video Engagement Experience platform, a freestanding web application that synchs up multiple streams on the PBS COVE website, allows online viewers to interact in real time around content by signing on through the platform or via Facebook.

Pilot tests of OVEE by five pubTV stations and producers at Frontline and PBS NewsHour received positive responses. For the next pilot round, five pubradio stations will be among the beta group of 25 test sites.

“There’s an enormous amount of interest” from the radio side, Palmieri said. In markets with separate PBS and NPR member stations, “OVEE offers real opportunities for joint engagement.”

ITVS is considering both pubTV and radio stations as well as groups such as the National Federation of Community Broadcasters for the beta tests, Palmieri said. Each participant will receive grants of $5,000, and testing will commence in January 2013. OVEE’s official release is set for next spring.

A $575,000 grant approved in June boosted CPB’s aid to a total of $1.5 million. The latest grant backs more work by OVEE’s developer to fix bugs in the system and install snazzy new features. Continue reading

Meridian, ITVS, and CPB Celebrate Global Women’s Empowerment

Last week, ITVS and CPB celebrated the launch of the Council on Women’s Leadership and the Women and Girls Lead initiative at the Meridian International Center in Washington, D.C.

On Thursday, September 15, Meridian, ITVS, and CPB, celebrated the launch of the Council on Women’s Leadership and shared a special preview of the Women and Girls Lead campaignThe focus of the evening was to raise awareness about the role of women and girls around the world, with a particular emphasis on women as leaders and agents of change.
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Watch American Graduate’s Too Important to Fail, Streaming now on

The program, which aired on Tavis Smiley Reports, examines one of the most disturbing aspects of the education crisis facing America today — the increased dropout rate among Black teenage males. The broadcast is currently streaming on a part of American Graduate, a public media initiative supported by CPB to help local communities across America find solutions to address the dropout crisis.

In this episode of Tavis Smiley Reports, Tavis travels across the country, speaking to education experts, as well as to the teenagers themselves about the challenges they face and how education can be redirected to address their needs. He profiles individuals who are making a difference in the lives of young Black males and looks at the schools that are best serving them.
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170 Million Campaign Marches On

A national webinar will be held on Tuesday, June 28 at 2 p.m. ET to discuss plans for the next phase of the 170 Million Americans for Public Broadcasting campaign.

More than 370,000 citizen advocates have joined the 170 Million Americans for Public Broadcasting campaign, surpassing the organization’s original goal of securing 250,000 advocates. As a a result, 170 Million has set their sites on a new target, one million advocates! The campaign relies on grassroots support to defend federal funding, which is vital to sustain local public media stations and organizations.
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AIR/ITVS Survey of Public Media’s Independent Journalists Now Available

This benchmark analysis, funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and conducted by Market Trends Research, provides new insight into how independent radio, television, and online producers intersect relative to the rapidly evolving landscape of public media in the last three years.

The report was commissioned by ITVS along with the Association of Independents in Radio (AIR). Some of the top findings include:

  • Nearly half (43%) of radio independents report a strong or very strong relationship with their local public radio station, while ties between TV journalists and local public television stations are weaker. ( page 18 )
  • Of the 206 qualified respondents to the AIR-ITVS Scan, 75% of public media journalists work primarily in radio, 20% in television or film, and 5% online. ( page 16 )

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Nicholas Kristof’s Reports for Half The Sky Underway

The New York Times op-ed columnist is behind the recently announced primetime television special Half The Sky, which premieres on PBS’s Independent Lens in Fall 2012.

America Ferrera recently joined Nicholas Kristof in India to focus on the problem of human trafficking

Last month, BTB unveiled ITVS and CPB’s investment in Half The Sky, a primetime television special and multi-platform project based on New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s widely acclaimed book, Half The Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. The series will premiere as a special presentation on Independent Lens in Fall 2012 and is a cornerstone of the recently announced Women and Girls Lead campaign.

Some of today’s finest actresses and spokespeople have been tapped to engage with the subjects on the ground and broaden the understanding for viewers of the issues at hand, including Diane Lane, who recently traveled to Somaliland, and America Ferrera, who joined Kristof last month in India to focus on the problem of human trafficking.
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PBS Annual Meeting Features Breakfast Panel on Women and Girls Lead

Women and Girls Lead officially launched at last week’s PBS Annual Meeting in Orlando, FL.

Watch the below panel discussion on the multi-year public media campaign moderated by Patricia Harrison and featuring: Geena Davis, Paula Kerger, Sheryl WuDunn, and Abigail Disney.