TCA Press Tour: PBS wants KCET to stay in the family


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PBS executives are in active discussions with cash-strapped KCET to keep the Los Angeles station a vibrant part of public television, said PBS President and CEO Paula Kerger Wednesday morning during the semiannual TV press tour in Beverly Hills.

In town to tout her new slate of national programming that includes a new ‘Cat in the Hat’ series and a postscript to Ken Burns’ 1994 ‘Baseball’ documentary, Kerger took a reporter’s question about KCET’s precarious financial situation, which was reported by Times media columnist James Rainey in Wednesday’s Calendar section. In the column, Rainey reported that KCET, hit hard by a drop in contributions and intense competition from other channels, is weighing leaving the PBS network and going independent.


KCET executives, who laid off workers recently and are showing less locally produced programming, complain their annual $6.8 million payments to PBS are hurting the station. In addition to separating from PBS, KCET executives are also considering forming a consortium with three other Southern California public stations -- Orange County’s KOCE, the Los Angeles school district’s KLCS and the Inland Empire’s KVCR.

But Kerger said she doesn’t want any of that to happen.

‘We have worked with KCET for 40 years and I hope we work with them for another 40 years,’ said Kerger. ‘That’s my intention.’

-- Martin Miller