×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Prewitt backs indie Davids against TV Goliaths

Women's Impact Report 2011: Jean Prewitt

By the time Comcast and NBCUniversal announced their planned merger in December 2009, Jean Prewitt, president and CEO of the Independent Film & Television Alliance, had begun lobbying to improve the position of independent producers vis-à-vis media conglomerates.

“Probably four years ago, our board agreed that we had to take a much stronger policy role to address issues related to independents being closed out of U.S. television opportunities,” Prewitt says. “Some of that was related to media consolidation, but that was paired with concern about how all of that would potentially play out again on the Internet.”

By the time Comcast and NBCU were appearing before Congress to defend their deal, IFTA was more than ready. Prewitt’s testimony in front of the House Judiciary Committee in February 2010 — while she sat next to Comcast CEO Steve Burke and then-NBCU prexy Jeff Zucker — helped persuade lawmakers some kind of deal was needed.

In 1995, independents accounted for 50% of programming on all channels,” she says. “Today, just 10% to 15% of programming comes from independents. More to the point, the public wasn’t seeing interesting independent programming.”

By Washington standards, a deal was quickly struck. In July, Comcast and NBCUniversal agreed to work with IFTA on the following items:

• Schedule an annual development presentation for indie producers;

• Arrange annual pitch meetings with execs from NBCU’s entertainment nets;

• Allocate funds to support development of indie projects;

• Facilitate introductions of indie producers to advertisers;

• Take submissions from independent producers for NBCU’s cable networks of movies of the week, miniseries or films;

• Help Comcast Cable develop a relationship with IFTA with an eye toward licensing independently produced content for distribution on Comcast’s new media platforms.

“We’ve already seen implementation,” Prewitt says. “Comcast and NBCU have been amenable because they are anxious to see a system that would start moving independent programming forward. They hope that by working closer with us that something might be created in this process that helps strengthen their channels.”

SNAPSHOT
Title: President/CEO, Independent Film & Television Alliance
Role model: Nancy Drew
Career mantra: “Don’t lose sight of the mission.”
Leisure pursuits: “Collecting work of local artists, reading murder mysteries and travel essays, enjoying family”
Political passions: Cancer research, affordable housing, equal opportunities

More TV

  • El Pájaro Amarillo

    ‘The Yellow Bird’ Takes Off from Pamplona’s Conecta Fiction

    PAMPLONA, Spain — Actor-turned-producer Antonio Resines attended this year’s Conecta Fiction TV co-production and networking event with his proposed series “The Yellow Bird,” based on a true story. In the 1920s aviation was in its infancy, and scores of pilots dedicated their lives to crashing through seemingly unbreakable barriers. Among them, Armand Lotti, a young [...]

  • THE MASKED SINGER: L-R: Terry Bradshaw

    Fox Sets Fall Premiere Dates for 'Empire' Final Season, 'Masked Singer' Season 2

    Fox has officially set its fall premiere dates for the 2019-2020 season. As was previously announced, the 71st Emmy Awards will air live on Fox on Sunday, Sept. 22. “9-1-1” returns for its third season on Monday, Sept. 23, leading in to the series premiere of the new Fox drama series “Prodigal Son.” Tuesday, Sept. [...]

  • FX Announces 'American Horror Story: 1984'

    FX Announces 'American Horror Story: 1984' Premiere Date

    “American Horror Story: 1984” will premiere on September 18 at 10 p.m., FX announced Monday. The cabler also announced the returns of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” “Mayans MC” and “Mr. Inbetween.” “1984” is the ninth installment of Ryan Murphy’s horror drama. The uber-producer previously unveiled a teaser for the season, stylized in the vein [...]

  • The Loudest Voice Review

    TV Shows to Watch the Week of June 24, 2019: 'The Loudest Voice' Premieres on Showtime

    Welcome back to Tune In: our weekly newsletter offering a guide to the best of the week’s TV. Each week, Variety’s TV team combs through the week’s schedule, selecting our picks of what to watch and when/how to watch them. This week, “The Loudest Voice” premieres on Showtime and Ramy Youssef’s stand-up special drops on [...]

  • Ultratumba

    ‘From the Dead’ Tops Conecta Fiction’s Pitch Digiseries Session

    PAMPLONA, Spain — This year’s Conecta Fiction, Spain’s upstart international TV co-pro and networking event now in its third year, hosted a Pitch Digiseries session, an hour-long event which saw five ambitious short-form projects pitch to industry professionals gathered in the northern city of Pamplona. While drama may be the name of the game among [...]

  • MIL-COLMILLOS

    Conecta Fiction: Colombia’s Rhayuela Films Advances on ‘Casting,’ ‘Agencia de Detectives’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    PAMPLONA, Spain  —  Now in post-production on HBO Latin America’s action horror thriller “Mil Colmillos,” one of the biggest series the pay TV operator has made out of Latin America, Colombia’s Rhayuela is advancing on development of two new TV dramas:“Agencia de Detectives” and “Casting.” Set in an unidentified Latin American country, and based on [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content