The officials at PBS have decided to halt the production of the documentary series after the producers agreed to omission on Ben Affleck’s insistence.
The documentary series ‘Finding Your Roots’ which airs on the network PBS has been postponed by the officials. According to the reports PBS believes the producers on the show ‘Finding Your Roots’ violated the PBS standards when they omitted a reference to Ben Affleck’s slave owning ancestors in an episode. The cut was made on Affleck’s insistence to an episode about the actor’s family history in the south in the second season in 2014.
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News about the omission leaked online through the WikiLeaks as a result of the Sony hack. At the time PBS and the broadcasting network WNET claimed it is the first time they have heard of the news. PBS launched an inquiry into the matter revealing Ben Affleck’s great-great-great-grandfather owned about 24 slaves in the south and the program cut the revelations.
The inquiry further revealed the co-producers on the show had improperly influenced the editing process and had failed to inform even the network PBS about Affleck’s request on not revealing his slave-owning past.
Ben Affleck later apologised saying he was embarrassed of his ancestor and did not want his name to be associated with a slave-owner that is why he made the request.
PBS along with New York station WNET said Wednesday that it “determined that the series co-producers violated PBS standards by failing to shield the creative and editorial process from improper influence, and by failing to inform PBS or WNET of Mr. Affleck’s efforts to affect program content.”
Henry Louis Gates Jr. the series host and executive producer later apologised for having concealed the information about Ben Affleck’s ancestors on the program. Gates also shared he is working on forming new guidelines to promote transparency on the show. PBS has now decided the show may not return to the TV screen according to its old schedule until new guidelines have been properly formulated. ‘Finding Your Roots’ has since then even hired another researcher and an independent genealogist to review program content for authenticity.
“I want to thank PBS for its thoughtful internal review,” Gates said in a statement (via Variety) issued Wednesday. “I sincerely regret not discussing my editing rationale with our partners at PBS and WNET, and I apologize for putting PBS and its member stations in the position of having to defend the integrity of their programming. Throughout my many years of producing genealogy documentaries, I have always operated with rigorous ethical standards. Even so, we have been working with PBS and WETA to create new guidelines to increase transparency going forward. My career has been dedicated to improving race relations and intercultural understanding in our country. We are very excited about the third season of ‘Finding Your Roots’ and look forward to uncovering and sharing many more incredible ancestral stories with our viewers.”
“Editorial integrity is essential to PBS. As a mission-driven media enterprise, we know that earning and keeping the trust of the American public are our most important priorities,” said Hoppe, who is PBS’ chief programming executive and general manager of general audience programming, in a prepared statement.
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“The co-producers of ‘Finding Your Roots’ have a strong track record of creating high-quality programming for PBS over many years. Improved editorial and production processes will ensure that all future projects will adhere to PBS’ editorial guidelines.”