James T. Yee

Emmy-winning producer James T. Yee, former chief of the Independent Television Service (ITVS) and longtime advocate for plurality in public TV, died March 17, at his home in Piedmont, Calif., following an 18-month battle with cancer. He was 53.

Yee served as the executive director of the San Francisco-based ITVS from 1994 to 2000. ITVS was established in 1991 by Congress to increase diversity of public television programming and address the needs of underserved auds, particularly minorities and children.

Prior to working for ITVS, Yee served as the first executive director and co-founder of the National Asian American Telecommunications Assn. During his term at NAATA, Yee helped raise the profile of Asian-Americans on both the small and large screens.

Yee also served on President Clinton’s Advisory Committee on the Public Interest Obligations of Digital Television Broadcasters, the 20-member group appointed to address the digital transition of American TV.

As a producer, Yee received an Emmy in 1997 for “a.k.a. Don Bonus,” a docu co-directed by Spencer Nakasako and Sokly Ny, which aired on PBS. Yee was also the recipient of the Steve Tatsukawa Award, given by Visual Communications to honor those who have made a significant contribution to Asian American media.

He is survived by his wife, Betty Quan Yee, and two children.

Contributions can be made to: The James T. Yee Family Fund c/o NAATA 346 Ninth Street, San Francisco, CA 94103 or to the James T. Yee Mentorship Program, made out to NAATA and sent to the address above, attn.: James T. Yee Mentorship Program.

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