KCET-TV, the Los Angeles area’s public broadcasting station for 40 years, announced on Friday that it would cut its PBS affiliation beginning Jan. 1 and become the country’s largest independent public TV station, reports Scott Collins in the Los Angeles Times. The station is channel 28 on the UHF dial.
While the news took PBS executives in Washington by surprise, KCET President Al Jerome said in a statement that the station had been talking with PBS for more than three years about "the need to address challenges" for the station and its market, the story says.
In an interview, he added that the station will spend two years to build out its own programming, with the station continuing to air locally produced public-affairs shows such as "SoCal Connected," the article notes. The break comes after the station had chaffed under PBS’ required dues, which had jumped 40% after 2005, the story notes.
Viewers will also be facing changes, with Jerome acknowledging, "There are going to be some disruptions." The Associated Press notes that while there are three other PBS stations that serve Southern California, none carry the full slate of PBS shows.
Yet in a separate Los Angeles Times story, also by Scott Collins, PBS President Paula Kerger says that the city will get a full slate of PBS shows. She noted that KOCE-TV, a "secondary" affiliate in Orange County that carries just 25% of PBS programming, is likely to become a primary station, if needed.
While KCET, KOCE and two other public stations in the area had been talking about money-saving strategies and a way to keep KCET in the PBS fold, that consortium will continue without KCET, the story says.
KCET President Al Jerome has plenty of TV station experience. According to his bio, "Before coming to KCET, Jerome had a successful career in commercial broadcasting. His early experience was in sales and sales management at ABC and CBS. In 1975, Jerome began a seventeen year association at NBC, which included a decade as President of the NBC Television Station Group, responsible for oversight of the company-owned affiliates in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, Cleveland, Miami, and Denver, as well as NBC Spot Sales. He also served as Vice-President and General Manager of WNBC-TV/New York."
The bio continues, "In 1992, Jerome was recruited to be president and chief executive officer of SpectraVision, Inc., the hotel industry’s leading provider of pay-per-view entertainment and interactive television programming."
Jerome came to KCET in 1996.