ITVS and PBS Launch Independent Digital Distribution Lab to Build Sustainable Revenue Support Model for Indie Filmmakers

Pilot program launches 50 titles through PBS digital distribution partnerships this year

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(Arlington, VA / San Francisco, CA)—In a joint venture, Independent Television Service (ITVS) and PBS announce the Independent Digital Distribution Lab to explore revenue-generating partnership models for independent filmmakers and public television. Nearly 50 independent works will be distributed over the next six months through PBS distribution partnerships, such as download-to-own and ad-based video sites. 

“Independent producers need support securing revenue value and exposure for their work, and as public television broadens its presence online, we want to be sure indie producers are part of that effort,” said Sally Jo Fifer, president of ITVS. “We’re working to build a long-term strategic path to deliver audience and revenue for all partners while continuing to provide the important public service that comes from independently produced public media.” 

The Independent Digital Distribution Lab is part of a series of efforts at PBS and ITVS to expand distribution vehicles to broadband-connected audiences. PBS recently launched a section on for the Emmy® Award–winning PBS series Independent Lens. It currently includes seven films from the series and will become a home for many of the Lab’s projects. In addition, 27 Lab projects are available for streaming on, and six films are in the Xbox and Zune marketplaces. 

“Bringing innovation, perspectives and diversity through independent film to the American public is essential to PBS’s mission,” said Andy Russell, senior vice president, PBS Ventures. “PBS Distribution is building branded partnerships with major online distributors as well as making significant enhancements to our own distribution on to ensure public television content reaches the widest possible audiences. The Independent Digital Distribution Lab will foster partnerships with content providers to expand the range of online experiences for consumers and generate revenues shared among all parties to create more public media content.” 

The Independent Digital Distribution Lab is a joint project of PBS and ITVS. It is based out of PBS’s Arlington, Virginia, headquarters. For a complete list of the Lab’s catalogue and available online video to date, visit ITVS’s Beyond the Box blog, where listings, links and video preview shorts of the projects will be featured: 


PBS, with its 356 member stations, offers all Americans, from every walk of life, the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television and online content. Each week, PBS reaches more than 65 million people and invites them to experience the worlds of science, history, nature and public affairs; hear diverse viewpoints; and take front-row seats to world-class drama and performances. PBS’s broad array of programs has been consistently honored by the industry’s most coveted award competitions. Teachers of children from pre-K through 12th grade turn to PBS for digital content and services that help bring classroom lessons to life. PBS’s premier children’s TV programming and website,, are parents’ and teachers’ most trusted partners in inspiring and nurturing curiosity and love of learning in children. More information about PBS is available at, one of the leading dot-org websites on the Internet. 


ITVS funds and presents award-winning documentaries and dramas on public television, innovative new media projects on the Web, and the Emmy® Award–winning weekly series Independent Lens on Tuesday nights at 10 PM on PBS. ITVS is a miracle of public policy created by media activists, citizens and politicians seeking to foster plurality and diversity in public television. ITVS was established by a historic mandate of Congress to champion independently produced programs that take creative risks, spark public dialogue and serve underserved audiences. Since its inception in 1991, ITVS programs have revitalized the relationship between the public and public television, bringing TV audiences face-to-face with the lives and concerns of their fellow Americans. More information about ITVS can be obtained by visiting ITVS is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people. 


Independent Lens is an Emmy® Award–winning weekly series airing on PBS. The acclaimed anthology series features documentaries and a limited number of fiction films united by the creative freedom, artistic achievement and unflinching visions of their independent producers. Independent Lens features unforgettable stories about unique individuals, communities and moments in history. Presented by ITVS, the series is supported by interactive companion websites and national publicity and community engagement campaigns. Independent Lens is jointly curated by ITVS and PBS and is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people, with additional funding provided by PBS and the National Endowment for the Arts. The series producer is Lois Vossen. Further information about the series is available at 

CONTACT: Dennis Palmieri, ITVS 415-356-8383 x256 Cara White, PBS 843-881-1480

Posted on April 6, 2009