Press Release
Contact: Aaron Pruitt, Director of Programming (406) 994-5021
Date: Monday, October 10, 2005

Montana PBS to broadcast “America’s Heartland” Series

After considerable research, Montana PBS has made the decision to broadcast the ‘agricultural lifestyle’ public television series entitled America’s Heartland. The program will premiere on Friday, November 11th at 11:30am. Produced by KVIE public television in Sacramento, CA, and distributed by American Public Television, America’s Heartland generated form letter and email campaigns in opposition of its broadcast on public television.

MontanaPBS has reviewed the series, and agrees with the producer’s statement, that the program’s “sole intent is to raise non-farm audience’s awareness and understanding of the role of agriculture in our nation and how food and fiber is produced for them.”

Objections were leveled against the series by individuals and by members of advocacy organizations like the Global Resource Action Center (GRACE) and the Center for Food Safety. Principal among these objections was that an unethical relationship exists between the sponsors of the program, Monsanto and the American Farm Bureau, and the producer of the series, KVIE public television.

MontanaPBS has investigated this editorial/funding issue, by directly contacting the producing station, and the distributor of the program. As a result of those inquiries, we are convinced that the series has been produced with the highest editorial standards, and we are reassured by the fact that it has passed American Public Television Funding Guidelines for non-controversial lifestyle programming. Under these guidelines, the sponsoring organizations may only review a program after final approval on content by American Public Television, and the sponsors may not have any editorial input in the production of the series.

It is not the purpose of America’s Heartland to investigate the effects of genetic alteration of seeds or the effects of herbicide use. America’s Heartland is not a public affairs program. At the same time, KVIE has assured us that episodes will include features on the family farm, small-scale producers, organic practices, and sustainable resources, but always with the intent to raise the profile of the individuals working in agriculture.

Public television stations in every community have the sole right to decide which program they will broadcast, based on their own editorial criteria. It is our current understanding that at least 73 public television licensees across the U.S. have also decided to broadcast America’s Heartland, following their own review of the program. 

We recognize that some of our viewers have concerns about the environmental impact of large-scale corporate farming and the social costs of industrial agriculture, as well as issues regarding genetically modified crops. We also recognize that alternatives are emerging for ecologically sensitive farming, and we have aired programs in the past that address these topics. Below are just a few examples of the programs MontanaPBS has and will continue to bring our viewers on a diverse range of agriculture topics.

Montana Ag Live
Farming From the Heart
Livable Landscapes: By Chance or By Choice?
The Race for Open Space
Save Our Land, Save Our Towns
Chefs A’Field: Culinary Adventures that Begin on the Farm
What’s Up in the Environment?
Bury, Burn or Return: Winning the War Against Waste

We hope viewers will watch an episode or two of America’s Heartland, and provide us feedback on the program. Emails may be sent to: feedback@montanapbs.org or you may call us at (406) 994-3437.

Montana PBS’ mission is to acquire, produce and deliver high quality educational, informational and entertaining programming and related outreach services to all Montanans. MontanaPBS is comprised of KUSM-TV Bozeman and KUFM-TV Missoula, each a non-commercial educational licensee of Montana State University - Bozeman and The University of Montana - Missoula, respectively.