Austin PBS affiliate won’t air ‘Out in America’

Posted on 07 Jun 2011 at 1:46pm
Meghan Stabler

Did anyone catch Out in America on KERA on Monday night? As we dutifully informed you, the major new documentary from PBS about the American LGBT experience, which has gotten rave reviews from advocates, aired in Dallas two days before it is scheduled to air on most PBS stations around the country — at 7 p.m. Central time on Wednesday. A KERA rep explained to Instant Tea that the station had a timeslot open Monday night to air the documentary as part of its pledge drive, but won’t be showing it again Wednesday, which is a live night. Out in America is scheduled to re-air at 3 a.m. Sunday on KERA. Depending on how many pledges it generates, Out in America could also re-air on KERA later in the month, the representative told us.

Meanwhile, down in Austin, controversy is brewing over Out In America. Meghan Stabler, a board member for the Human Rights Campaign who lives in Round Rock, reports that the PBS affiliate in the capital, KLRU, has no plans to air Out in America during Pride month:

A major documentary about the American LGBT experience (“OUT in America”) will premiere nationally this week. Unfortunately here in Austin, the most liberal of cities in Texas, maybe the only liberal city in Texas, the local PBS station, KLRU,  is not scheduled to air it. …

After researching the monthly schedule for KLRU I noticed that while over 80 percent of the national PBS Stations are planning to run the documentary, KLRU has no plans,” Stabler writes. “The majority of airings will take place to coincide with Pride month, June. I contacted the programming department and received the following reply, “thanks … for inquiring about OUT in America. Currently our programming department said it’s not scheduled but they are considering it. Here’s a list of other programs this month to celebrate Gay and Lesbian Pride Month.” …

I talked further with the programming department of KLRU. There answer was that this is a “pledge drive” program and they will not be running it. They have recorded it for potential future use, but as this was a pledge program they would not be running it in the near term. I wasn’t satisfied and neither should you be.

So I then talked with Maria Rodriguez, Sr. VP – Broadcasting at KLRU-TV (Beyondmrodriguez@klru.org or 512-475-9029). She confirmed what I had been told earlier that “OUT in America” had been offered by PBS National as a documentary for use during pledge drives, and that due to a shorter than normal pledge drive in June, KLRU had decided not to air the program. She could not confirm a date or a month that the documentary would be aired but assured me that some time in the year it would be. I informed her that the content of this documentary was about the lives and personal stories as told by our voices vs. a historical narrative on topics like Stonewall. But she said they were airing Stonewall Uprising and two others for the GLBT community and that KLRU felt that was all that would be done.

Unfortunately a new documentary that does a beautiful job of capturing the richness and complexity of what it means to be LGBT at this particular moment in American history, and does so in an warm, humorous and genuine way, fails to get air time in Austin. That doesn’t cut it for me. “OUT in America” is a collection of our voices airing the struggle for equality in love, relationships, work and transition. The other programming, while offering a repeat documentary on the history of Stonewall and a new documentary called “Two Spirits” about the Navajo Indian traditions and the brutal slaying of Fred Martinez a Navaho “two-spirit” transgender youth, could still be bolstered by the scheduling of “Out in America.”

A petition has been launched at Change.org calling for Austin’s KLRU to air Out In America. If you’d like to encourage KERA to re-air the program in Dallas later this month, the station’s representative said to call 800-456-5372, mention Out in America, and make a contribution.

 

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