A Canadian cable channel hopes to launch a U.S. offshoot dedicated to making programs for Native Americans, by Native Americans.
Variety reports that Canada’s Aboriginal Peoples Television Network wants to launch All Nations Network here in the States, which “will develop and air TV programs written, produced, and directed by Native Americans, among others.” Which is very, very cool.
Founded in 1999, APTN is a nonprofit and “the first and only national Aboriginal broadcaster in the world, with programming by, for and about Aboriginal Peoples,” according to its website. (Which also says that “84% of APTN programming originates in Canada, with 56% of the programs broadcast in English, 16% in French and 28% in a variety of Aboriginal languages.”) That programming covers a lot of ground, from news to original shows:
Among the programs APTN has shown in Canada are “Mohawk Girls,” a scripted comedy-drama that has been likened to a “Sex and the City” for Native peoples; “Rabbit Fall,” a supernatural series; and “Anash and the Legacy of the Sun-Rock,” a kids’ series based on Tinglit stories about maintaining principles.
Now they’d like to bring that idea to the U.S. “We think the time is right for Native Americans to have their own channel,” CEO Jean La Rose told Variety, adding that:
Native American producers are poised and eager to have the same opportunities, and we believe that we can work together to provide a unique window into the lives — past, present and future — of this community.
Variety says filmmaker Chris Eyre is involved, as well.
Of course, the American TV business is a different beast. Compare the position of the CBC with PBS. Canada’s telecom regulator, the CRTC, mandates that cable carriers include APTN, which means it’s in millions of homes across Canada. In the U.S. cable is a dollar-driven scrum where new channels like Current have trouble gaining traction. It’s unfortunately all-too-easy to see unimaginative execs and advertisers looking at Native American poverty rates and taking a pass. “The company declined to offer specific information about launch timelines or carriage agreements,” Variety noted, though they’re working with Castalia Communications on distribution.
It won’t be a walk in the park, in other words, but here’s hoping they can clear those initial logistical hurdles, because I really want to see Mohawk Girls.
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