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Former KCET-TV President and Longtime Executive Director of TV Academy Dies LA Times

The former president and founder of Los Angeles station KCET-TV, a longtime director of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, has died, the Los Angeles Times reports. James L. Loper was 81.

Loper helped turn the public broadcasting station into one of the country's biggest noncommercial stations, and went on to oversee the Television Academy, the story notes.

The obituary notes, "An Arizona transplant, Loper was a doctoral student at USC in the early 1960s when he joined a small group, the Committee for Educational Television, that was trying to establish a public broadcasting station in Los Angeles.

"When KCET went on the air in 1964, Loper was director of educational television. About two years later, he took charge of the station, first as vice president and general manager and then as president from 1971 to 1983."

Under his leadership, the station debuted three Peabody Award-winning programs: "Hollywood Television Theater," "Visions" and "Cosmos," a 1980 miniseries co-produced with its host, astronomer Carl Sagan.

The piece adds: "Loper resigned from KCET in 1983 after a Times investigation revealed that a bank account had been set up by the station to maintain his memberships in private clubs, professional organizations and charities. The station had been undergoing a financial crisis, exacerbated by cuts in federal support, that brought it to the brink of bankruptcy."

Loper served as executive director of the TV Academy from 1984 through 1999.