Open TV addresses diversity in TV programming

DetailsMichelle Clancy | 20 July 2015

Frustrated by the lack of diversity on commercial television, Northwestern University's Aymar Jean Christian has launched a platform to develop work from LGBT, women of colour and other artists typically left out of mainstream production.

Called Open TV beta, the incubator is now both an experiment in community-based Web distribution for indie arts and artists and a research project by Christian, an assistant professor of communication at Northwestern's School of Communication.

"Networks failed to realise they forgot to make shows for almost half the country," Christian said. "They tend to normalise these typically marginalised characters for fear of losing advertisers and a mass audience."

The project is designed to challenge the traditional method for developing television shows, collect media research data and showcase a typically overlooked population in a more nuanced light.

Open TV allows artists keep their intellectual property, and distribution agreements are non-exclusive, meaning they can sell, promote or show the piece elsewhere after it has appeared on the platform. Currently in beta, plans are to grow slowly, artist by artist and series by series.

"We believe television is an art but must also showcase different types of art outside of the competition format we see on reality TV," Christian said. "We are not focused on 'scale' and 'big data' but rather on showcasing artists who have earned a few minutes of viewers' time."