* New York —With television networks having recently grasped that the most loyal viewers—Blacks—want to see themselves on scripted series, the nation’s primary presenter of Black historical and contemporary stories on public television is making the case that these audiences are also clamoring for more diverse nonfiction TV and Web content.
To satisfy that need, the Harlem-based National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC) is bringing together public media professionals; broadcasting, digital and production company executives; funders; and distributors together with talented content producers on Thursday, April 23, for Pitch Black—a live, interactive pitching session under its new initiative NBPC 360. Through NBPC 360, NBPC will award between $50,000 and $150,000 to as many as three producing teams to develop their TV and Web series.
According to a February Nielsen article, African-Americans consume more media content than any other ethnic group—and through diverse media outlets and platforms—outpacing the general population in watching traditional television, reading print media and listening to radio. They also are 7 percent more likely to own smartphones (at 81 percent) than the general population and are avid viewers of video content on their phones.
With an eye on these Black viewing habits, NBPC 360 is a massive recruitment effort designed to develop the nation’s Black producers—and their content. “Today’s viewers are excited about the nuanced portrayals of diverse characters in scripted media. They are also excited about the deep dive that nonfiction media takes into issues and concerns affecting an increasingly diverse community. Programs like these aren’t developed in a vacuum but with the input and support of many,” said NBPC Executive Director Leslie Fields-Cruz. “With NBPC 360 we are systematizing that ecosystem of support. This way, projects like those in our incubator have the best chance to succeed and ultimately find their way to an audience.”
NBPC 360 is designed to help advance producers of all career levels—even if they are not ultimately selected for the incubator. After announcing an open call for submissions in October 2014, NBPC launched a weekly series of webinars on different aspects of the business and presented a live stream event on the latest trends in public television to assist producers in preparing their applications.
The inaugural effort generated massive interest: 163 teams applied. NBPC narrowed the field to eight producing teams of NBPC 360 Fellows. These Fellows are now in the midst of an intensive, six-week incubator designed to prepare them for Pitch Black on April 23 at The Greene Space at WNYC/WQXR and the pilot production their program.
Pitch Black is an interactive session at which the Fellows will pitch their projects in front of a live audience to a high-profile panel of public media and industry executives, distribution and production companies, potential funders, and more. Teams will be evaluated on their technical and artistic merits, relevance, team capacity and suitability to the broadcast venue.
Up to three teams will be selected for an award of between $50,000 and $150,000 each to cover production costs for a pilot of their show. Once completed, the winning producing teams with the support of NBPC will then pursue broadcast and distribution opportunities for the programs.
NBPC 360 partners include WNET (lead station), WTTW, WYES, KQED, WGBH/World, American Public Television, National Minority Consortia, SCETV, BritDoc, POV, ITVS, IFP Made in New York, Tribeca Film Institute, NYC Media and Silicon Harlem. The program is made possible by funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
For more information on NBPC or NBPC 360, visit www.blackpublicmedia.org or follow the organization on Twitter (@BLKPublicMedia).
To find out more about NBPC or NBPC 360, visit www.blackpublicmedia.org
or follow the organization on Twitter (@BLKPublicMedia) or Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/BlackPublicMedia).
The National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC) is committed to enriching our democracy by educating, enlightening, empowering and engaging the American public. We support diverse voices by developing, producing and distributing innovative media about the Black experience and by investing in visionary content makers. NBPC provides quality content for public media outlets, including, among others, PBS and PBS.org and BlackPublicMedia.org, as well as other platforms, while training and mentoring the next generation of Black filmmakers. Founded in 1979, NBPC produces the “AfroPoP: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange” documentary series and manages NBPC 360, a funding and training initiative designed to accelerate the production of important Black serial and interactive content.
Cheryl L. Duncan