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PBS General Audience Programming and Digital Studios content represents diverse perspectives from an inclusive range of producers.

PBS’s ongoing commitment to deliver a broad and diverse array of content to the American public is reflected across General Audience (GA) Programming, Digital Studios, and our pipeline of producers.  This commitment is essential to fulfilling the PBS mission and creating relevant, timely, and distinctive content that educates, engages, and inspires. 

Diverse representation of on-screen talent (narrators, hosts, subjects, or experts) across our primetime content is core to our work in primetime programming, and PBS offers a platform for a range of producers including those from underrepresented groups.  These groups include Black people, Indigenous people, people of color, people who identify as LGBTQ+, and people with disabilities.

PBS is also aware that underrepresented producers have historically faced barriers in public television including lack of access to funding support for their projects. To help address these and other barriers, General Audience Programming will provide increased funding support to increase opportunities for our GA primetime/digital content, pool of producers, and on-screen talent to represent the range and diversity of the American public. 

Producers from all backgrounds and perspectives are welcome to submit their proposals to PBS for consideration.

Primetime/Digital Studios Content: 

PBS General Audience Programming and Digital Studios strive to reflect diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) across our primetime and digital content, which is core to our work at PBS. 

Documentaries, series, topics, or narratives should meaningfully offer a wide range of perspectives including those from underrepresented groups. 

All Americans should see themselves represented through our programs that celebrate and give voice to a broad variety of backgrounds and lived experiences. 

On-Screen Representation: 

In addition to inclusive storytelling, PBS General Audience Programming and Digital Studios work to increase opportunities for our primetime/digital content to include diverse on-screen representation of talent (narrators, hosts, subjects, or experts). 

Overall, on-screen talent should reflect the diversity and lived experiences of the U.S. population.

Key Editorial Roles/Behind the Camera: 

GA Programming and Digital Studios productions should reflect diversity behind the camera among key editorial personnel involved in productions (examples include Executive Producer, Series Producer, Co-Producer, Director, Director of Photography, etc.).

 Questions for Producers

As General Audience Programming and Digital Studios continue to amplify this work to ensure our content across platforms is diverse and inclusive, we urge PBS producing partners (including public television major producing stations and producers of direct-to-PBS programs) to strive to fulfill one or more of our DEI areas of focus – primetime content, on-screen representation, and key editorial roles behind the camera. 

PBS producing partners should consider the following questions during the development and proposal submission stage for their projects. These questions are not intended to be an exhaustive list, but rather meant to serve as a guide for pre-planning.

  • Does this program content reflect a diversity of stories, voices, or perspectives?
  • What steps are you taking to ensure that your stories are authentic – grounded in a diversity of lived experiences and shown through multiple lenses of storytelling? 
  • In the production/story development process, are you including people from the communities about which you are telling the stories?
  • Does on-screen talent reflect diversity, including talent from underrepresented groups? 
  • Does the behind-the-camera production team include people from underrepresented backgrounds including those in key editorial/production roles?
  • Do production crews/vendors reflect the communities from which they are drawn?
  • What steps has your production team taken to ensure that producing/co-producing partners are promoting DEI principles for the project? 

See below for information about reporting standards for producing partners.

Reporting and Accountability

Transparency in reporting and accountability are essential to General Audience Programming efforts to support and distribute inclusive content.  We have begun requiring producers to provide a DEI plan as a deliverable for all new agreements, series renewals, and direct-to-PBS programs.  Producing partners will explain how their projects support the DEI principles that PBS General Audience Programming has outlined. 

For programs aimed for PBS General Audience Programming distribution, producing partners must submit a draft DEI plan with their project proposal.  For General Audience Programming and Digital Studios content, producers must submit a plan that outlines:

  1.  A description of how the production includes perspectives of underserved populations. This should include: content subject matter; on-screen talent; and key editorial personnel/behind the camera staff. Due prior to pre-production.
  2. Diverse representation for production team members including above-the-line talent (Directors, Writers, Producers, Creators) and below-the-line positions. Due prior to pre-production.

For each area of reporting (e.g., above-the-line, below-the-line, on-screen talent, etc.), producers must indicate whether DEI goals outlined in the plan were met, surpassed, or missed. When goals were not met, producers must provide details within 45 days of completion of principal photography on which aspects were found challenging to address and why.  A final report addressing the projects successes and challenges related to DEI are due with final reporting/delivery.

Measuring our Progress

PBS General Audience Programming recognizes there is always more work needed to advance diversity and inclusion across our content, on-screen talent, and pool of producers. For these efforts to be sustained over time, defining our measures for success is important as it also helps us to identify areas for improvement. 

General Audience Programming has established the following benchmarks for measuring our progress:

  • R&D and production funding support for concepts developed/co-developed by producers from underrepresented groups.
  • Support for professional development & mentorship opportunities for filmmakers from underrepresented groups in various stages of their public television producing careers (early and mid-career makers).