TV Stations Wikia

KCET, virtual and UHF digital channel 28, is a PBS member station licensed to Los Angeles, California, United States. Owned by the Public Media Group of Southern California, it is sister to Huntington Beach-licensed PBS member station KOCE-TV (channel 50). KCET's studios are located at The Pointe (on West Alameda Avenue and Bob Hope Drive, between The Burbank Studios and Walt Disney Studios complexes) in Burbank, and its transmitter is located atop Mount Wilson in the San Gabriel Mountains (north of Sierra Madre).


Background of educational television in Los Angeles[]

KCET was actually the second attempt at an educational station in the Los Angeles area: KTHE, operated by the University of Southern California, had previously broadcast on channel 28, beginning on September 22, 1953. It was the second educational television station in the United States, signing on six months and four days after KUHT in Houston, but it went dark after nine months due to its primary benefactor, the Hancock Foundation, determining that the station was too much of a financial drain on its resources.

Station history[]

Early history, as an NET station[]

KCET – the calls of which stand for either California Educational Television, Committee for Educational Television, Community Educational Television, or Cultural and Educational Television – first signed on the air on September 28, 1964 as an affiliate of National Educational Television (NET). The station was originally licensed to the non-profit group Community Television of Southern California (CTSC). Part of the station's initial funding came from four of Los Angeles's commercial stations–KNXT (channel 2; now KCBS-TV), KNBC (channel 4), KTTV (channel 11) and KCOP (channel 13)–along with grants from the Ford Foundation and the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare. KCET initially broadcast in black and white from Monday through Friday. James Loper, a co-founder of CTSC, served as the station's director of education from 1964 to 1966 and then vice president and general manager from 1966 to 1971. Loper then served as president of KCET from 1971 to 1983. Creative Person—John Burton. This 30 minute film biography of Glass artist and Philosopher John Burton was the first color film commissioned by KCET-TV Los Angeles in 1965. It won the first two Los Angeles area Emmys for KCET for John Burton, and for the production by George Van Valkenburg. Van Valkenburg also produced a one-hour documentary film titled Paris Air show 1967 for KCET.

Prior to applying for and receiving a construction permit to build the new channel 28, CTSC attempted to acquire one of Los Angeles's seven existing VHF commercial stations. In 1968, Community Television of Southern California emerged as a potential buyer of KTLA's channel 5 license from then-owner Gene Autry, but could not raise the cash needed to make a serious offer. If CTSC succeeded in moving KCET to channel 5, the move would have mirrored a similar occurrence seven years earlier in the New York City area, where local broadcasters assisted a non-profit group in purchasing commercial independent VHF station WNTA-TV and converting it into non-commercial, educational WNDT (it is now WNET).

As a PBS member station[]

On October 5, 1970, KCET became a charter member of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) at the programming service's inception. For most of the next 40 years, it was the second most-watched PBS station in the country and occasionally produced programs distributed to PBS and to individual public television stations. The station served as Southern California's flagship PBS member station, with San Bernardino-licensed KVCR (channel 24) – which the San Bernardino Community College District signed on the air on September 11, 1962 –.as the service's original sole secondary outlet. KCET gained additional competitors when the Coast Community College District signed on Huntington Beach-licensed KOCE-TV (channel 50) on November 20, 1972, and the Los Angeles Unified School District signed on secondary Los Angeles member KLCS (channel 58) on November 5, 1973.

In 1971, KCET purchased the former Monogram Pictures property on 1725 Fleming Street (now Hoover Street) in a historic area of East Hollywood – which was used as a film and television studio from 1912 to 1970 – to serve as the station's headquarters, an acquisition assisted in part by financial contributions from both the Ford Foundation and the Michael Connell Foundation. The building was renamed the Weingart Educational Telecommunications Center and housed KCET's master control, digital control rooms, ingest, and editing stations on the first floor and engineering, and new media operations, and news and public affairs departments on the second floor.

In 1994, KCET and Store of Knowledge Inc., a Carson-based company, launched the KCET Store of Knowledge in 1994 in Glendale as the first of many partnership stores with PBS affiliates. In 2004, as part of its image-reclaiming public relations after the Gulf oil spill, BP started granting KCET half the funding for preschool shows including A Place of Our Own and Los Ninos en Su Casa, a Spanish language version. The other half of the $50 million grants for the show and supporting outreach programs came from First 5 California plus additional funding from an anonymous donor. The show would win Peabody and local Emmy awards and be shown national over PBS. KCET renamed its production studio to BP Studios in thanks.

PBS included BP's and other grants for the two pre-school shows in its complex progressive dues structures, even though the grants came with the stipulation that they could not be used for administrative costs. The PBS dues for KCET had previously been $4.9 million but with the grants included the dues increased by 40% to close to $7 million. Other large funding sources that had previously been counted on were shrinking and thus could not be tapped to pay the dues. KCET's request that these specific grants which were restricted to show production only not be counted towards the dues owed was denied; PBS executives indicated that PBS stations were expected to anticipate their dues and increase their reserves to pay them and therefore would not grant special treatment for KCET. With the January 2010 1/2 year payment coming up, KCET offered to reduce their status to a secondary affiliation, reducing the dues owed to a total of $1.3 million; due with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) paying $750,000 and a special campaign to raise the rest. PBS rejected the offer, insisting the station to remain as the primary affiliate.

As an independent public television station[]

On October 8, 2010, KCET announced that it could not reach an agreement to remain with PBS, and would end its partnership with PBS after 40 years to become an independent public television station – the second-largest such station in the United States in terms of market size, behind WNYE-TV in New York City – on January 1, 2011. KCET station management cited unsolvable financial and programming disputes among its major reasons for leaving PBS. After channel 28 left PBS, KOCE-TV replaced KCET as the area's primary PBS station. Prior to the new affiliation arrangement, KCET discussed plans to purchase KOCE-TV from its licensee, the Coast Community College District, but later opted to not place a bid for the station. A consortium involving Southern California's PBS stations–KCET, KOCE, secondary Los Angeles affiliate KLCS and San Bernardino-licensed KVCR–was also proposed to be formed to unite various functions, certain programming, fundraising and marketing, to save money.[17] however, KCET passed on the offer.

On February 4, 2011, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) fined KCET $10,000 for failure to make its public file available for inspection by the general public. On March 30, 2011, the Los Angeles Times reported that KCET was in negotiations to sell the Hollywood studio to the Church of Scientology, with KCET relocating to a smaller location following the sale, in light of KCET's sharp decreases in ratings and pledges following disaffiliation from PBS. The sale of the property, which was sold for $45 million, closed on April 25, 2011, with part of the proceeds going towards KCET's leasing of the studios until new facilities were found. KCET relocated to a new complex in a high-rise state-of-the art building, The Pointe, in April 2012, located in Burbank. The move left CW affiliate KTLA (channel 5) as the last remaining radio or television broadcaster in Los Angeles that maintains studio facilities in Hollywood, as other area stations have moved their operations to other L.A.-area neighborhoods and cities within the region. At the end of the 2011 Fiscal Year, contributions and grants to KCET decreased even further, down 41% from the previous year to $22.3 million.

In August 2011, KCET and Eyetronics Media & Studios (a company owned by former Walt Disney Company executive Dominique Bigle) agreed to partner on producing or acquiring Southern California-focused original series.

Formation of KCETLink[]

In October 2012, KCET announced it intended to merge with San Francisco-based Link Media (owner of non-commercial satellite network Link TV) to form KCETLink, a joint non-profit venture based in Burbank operating as a single 501(c)(3) multimedia organization; under the terms of the agreement, KCET would also add Link TV on one of the station's digital subchannels. KCETLink reaches a much wider broadcast audience that includes Link Media's 33 million subscribers on DirecTV and Dish Network, and KCET's 5.6 million households in Southern and Central California. On January 5, 2015, Michael Riley, former executive at ABC Family (now Freeform), was named the new CEO of KCETLINK (replacing Al Jerome, who exited in March 2014).

Merger with KOCE, planned return to PBS[]

On April 25, 2018, KCETLink Media Group and the KOCE-TV Foundation announced that they would merge. KOCE will remain the primary PBS station for the market, but KCET will return to the network as a secondary member, and both stations will continue to provide their existing programming services. Once the merger is completed, KOCE will move from its Costa Mesa facility to the current KCET facility in Burbank, while maintaining the Costa Mesa location as a secondary facility. In a joint statement, the two organizations stated that this merger would "[combine] PBS SoCal's beloved quality programming and community engagement excellence with KCETLink's passion for creating smart, original content that captures the spirit of the region."


TV stations in California
Independent stations Public TV stations
KBTV-CD, Sacramento KCET, Los Angeles
KCAL, Los Angeles KMTP, San Francisco
KIIO-LD, Los Angeles KPJK, San Mateo
KSCI, Long Beach
KHTV-CD, Los Angeles
KNLA-CD, Los Angeles
KBSV, Ceres
KTSF, San Francisco
KICU, San Francisco/San Jose
KXLA, Rancho Palos Verdes/Los Angeles
KUSI, San Diego
KSKT-CD, San Diego
KDOC, Los Angeles
TV stations in Southern California, including Los Angeles, Orange County, and portions of the Inland Empire
KCAL 9 (Ind)
KTBV-LD 12 (Ind)
KPOM-CD 14 (Story)
KSCI 18 (Ind)
KVME 20 (H&I)
KWHY 22 (Ind)
KPXN 30 (Ion)
K36JH-D 36 (TVA)
KXLA 44 (Ind)
KFTR-DT 46 (UnM)
KAZA 54 (MeTV)
KDOC 56 (Ind)
KJLA 57 (Ind)
KBEH 63 (Rel)