Emmy Magazine - Reality Issue

THE TERM NONFICTION TELEVISION encompasses virtually all unscripted programming, from documentaries to every incarnation of the Real Housewives franchise, yet there was no standard bearer for the industry until the Nonfiction Producers Association (NPA) was formed in 2014.

“It started with eight companies, and now we have thirty-nine,” says NPA general manager John Ford, also head of programming for Justice Network. “Nonfiction TV – outside of news – has become a huge and influential multi-billion-dollar industry. Rather than let others who don’t know anything about the business define it, we needed to coalesce and start speaking as an industry.”

The descriptor nonfiction won out because reality television was deemed too narrow. “Documentaries, competitions, contests, real-life adventure shows – anything that doesn’t require a script – is in the purview of nonfiction,” Ford explains.

NPA members agree to follow industry standards and best practices. They’re also encouraged to actively participate in the association, sharing information on everything from insurance coverage and equipment to location filming.

Say Ford: “Anyone who confronts a problem knows that as part of the NPA, they’re not alone”

-Paula Hendrickson