It's turning out to be a tough year for long-running PBS documentary stalwarts "POV" and "Independent Lens." After taking a major ratings hit due to being moved from the Tuesday night slot it has occupied for years, "Independent Lens" is now facing funding cuts from the National Endowment for the Arts, as is "POV."
The New York Times reports that the cuts, which become official April 25, will take away more than $1 million for PBS shows, the nonfiction series among them:
The independent documentary series “Independent Lens” was told it would get $50,000, down from $170,000, while the documentary series “POV” learned it would receive $100,000, down from $250,000.
"Great Performances," "American Masters" and "Art in the Twenty-First Century" are also due to get their funding reduced.
The Times quotes Simon Kilmurry of "POV" as calling the cuts "perplexing" and "a huge surprise and a blow to how much we can support filmmakers," while Sally Jo Fifer of "Independent Lens" says "we trust that the N.E.A. and other funders recognize the unique and vital role that independent filmmakers and public media play together in supporting our democracy."
The N.E.A. isn't commenting on the numbers until the 25th. Said Neal Shapiro of WNET, "We are hoping people will look at them and say they are way too severe." It's hard to imagine such major slashes in funding won't have an impact on two programs that serve as irreplaceably important platforms for nonfiction work.