Luca Bentivoglio helps make cultural and educational television that is representative of Latinos, such as Discovering Dominga, a documentary about a woman’s escape from Guatemala’s civil war. It’s among 50 projects Latino Public Broadcasting has helped fund since its creation in 1998. Discovering Dominga aired nationwide on July 8, one of 12 hours of national programming from LPB in 2003.
From Luca’s original entry:
Tell us what you do (or what your team or organization does) and the specific challenge you faced.
Latino Public Broadcasting is a non-profit organization that supports the development, production, acquisition and distribution of cultural and educational television that is representative of Latino people, or addresses issues of particular interest to Latino Americans. As Executive Director, I am responsible for the development and production of Latino programs that will provide diversity to the PBS line-up. I also create and implement outreach and international distribution strategies to offer Latino independent producers with additional opportunities. Diversifying television is a challenge that not many networks are standing up to face. Commercial television is a numbers game driven by rating and revenues. Latinos are the largest and fastest growing minority group in the US but registered only 3 percent of screen time on network programs last fall. How do you reach an audience that is diverse within in its own group?
What was your moment of truth?
Since November 1998, LPB has funded over fifty projects for public television. It provides the crucial seed money that independent producers need to begin or continue in their stifling fundraising efforts. It also provides the guidance to assist them in completing their fresh and groundbreaking projects. This year, LPB helped support 12 hours of programming including documentaries, series and feature films on public television and estimates 21 hours of programming in 2004. With my long term experience with Telemundo and Univision networks as a programmer, producer and on-camera personality, I knew that I could spark support for LPB to build a bloc of Latino programming. The initiatial process began in January 2003 with creating awareness of LPB within the televison/filmmaking industry and for the general public. I toured the country hosting workshops to filmmakers and speaking with individual public television stations to survey the support for a LPB bloc.
What were the results?
I was thrilled to find that programmers backed up the idea of a LPB bloc of programs. Armed with confidence and a killer instinct, I attended the two major television markets in Cannes, France to evaluate the international television arena. Europe proved receptive to conversations for international co-productions. The Latino bloc is being developed with support from the PBS President and the Corporation for Public Broadcast. In November, LPB awarded funds to 14 projects out of 130 applicants from across the United States. This year LPB saw an increase of applicants of over 40% from the previous open calls proving that filmmakers are increasing becoming aware of LPB resources.
What’s your parting tip?
Public television isn’t about ratings, it’s about alternatives, and that’s a great place to be.