PBS Sets Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Initiatives


During its virtual summer press tour, PBS revealed a slew of new initiatives, including a firm target on addressing diversity, equity and inclusion.

PBS and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) will award $5.5 million over the course of three years to Firelight Media, the non-profit filmmaking company founded by Stanley Nelson and Marcia Smith. With the grant, the Firelight Documentary Lab, Firelight Media’s flagship 18-month mentoring program that supports filmmakers from a project’s conception through its completion, will expand the number of filmmakers in each cohort. Groundwork Regional Labs will serve 40 early-career filmmakers in partnership with local stations. Also, digital short films will be commissioned from Documentary Lab and Groundwork fellows or alumni and other regional BIPOC filmmakers for the PBS system.

PBS has also updated producing criteria that will roll out across all PBS platforms, including PBS General Audience Programming, PBS Digital Studios and PBS KIDS. PBS will now require producers to provide their own diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) plan as a deliverable at the proposal stage and for all new agreements, series renewals and direct-to-PBS programs.

With support from CPB, PBS Digital Studios will establish three Regional Digital Centers of Innovation to build its digital capabilities and create a new pipeline of multiplatform content. Each regional center will partner with up to three PBS member stations located in geographically diverse markets across the country, resulting in up to 15 new digital series coming to its digital platforms over the next two years. The regional centers will exclusively focus on “content that elevates the voices of diverse content creators both in front of and behind the camera.”

Cecilia Loving will join the organization as the senior VP of diversity, equity and inclusion. She will report directly to President and CEO Paula Kerger. Loving will develop organizational strategy, provide ongoing advice and counsel and cultivate future partnerships for PBS. She will also identify opportunities to build on PBS’s commitment to DEI and collaborate across departments to evaluate current business practices. She will work with the public television system to support stations’ ongoing efforts around DEI.