October 7, 2007
DOCTV IB: Documentary Production and Regional Public Policy

In March 2006, the Brazilian-lead project, DOCTV Iberoamerica, was launched. By creating a documentary filmmaking contest for all of Ibero-America, DOCTV planned to do some pretty extraordinary things: it would strengthen the public broadcasting system, empower each country allowing them to decide what content they wanted to produce, assure the distribution of local content throughout the region, trigger creative processes, promote an attractive model for regional advertisers, generate local and regional cultural public policy, and, in the medium term, be self-financed.

This month, DOCTV launched the broadcast of their documentary series in all 13 participating countries. Having followed this process closely and, after participating in its implementation in Costa Rica, I am happy to see that this improbable endeavor is still marching on with full force.

DOCTV was originated as a local initiative in Brazil that worked with 22 states, their public television stations, their filmmaker guilds or associations, and, in some cases, with their municipalities as well.

Three years later, DOCTV Brasil had become such a success that, instead of producing 22 documentaries, certain states began investing the profits from the original series and now produce and average of 35 documentaries a year. As a result of their revenue distribution model and because they have managed to sell the documentary series as a whole, DOCTV Brasil is almost completely self-financed, allowing the program more stability than other government-dependant initiatives.

Hopefully, DOCTV Iberoamerica (DOCTV IB) will evolve in the same manner.

DOCTV IB was approved as part of the Program of the Conference of Audiovisual and Cinematographic Authorities of Ibero-America (CAACI), under the Executive Coordination of the Secretariat for Audiovisual Activity of the Ministry for Culture of Brazil. Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Panama, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Mexico, Portugal and Spain participate in DOCTV IB, and, although all of these countries have shown their approval of the program, they do have very different socio-political realities which without a doubt impact the evolution of the program, making it much harder for it reach the stability reached in Brazil.

Mario Borgneth, Special advisor to the Brazilian Minister of Culture and one of the creators of this program, has emphatically stated that, if this first edition goes well, that will be good news for the filmmakers. However, it will not mean that the program is a success.

For that to happen, many more editions will have to be implemented, and, then, the program will start to reach its original objectives: to stimulate cultural and economic exchange between Ibero-American peoples; to implement integrated public policies to encourage the production and tele-diffusion of documentaries in countries of the region, and the diffusion of the cultural production of Ibero-American peoples on the world market.