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KCET COURTS NEW YORK FUNDING

Los Angeles public television station KCET Channel 28 has opened an office here, in hopes of finding more funds to produce prime-time programming for public television nationally.

“You have to go and be where the money is, and there is more than one place where the money is,” explained KCET President William H. Kobin, noting that the station also plans to expand funding efforts in “the vital financial community of Los Angeles,” but that the greatest percentage of potential corporate underwriters for public television is based on the East Coast.

Reached by telephone in Washington on Wednesday, Kobin stressed KCET’s continued “commitment” to producing local programs, but he also said that “national production is one of our greatest areas of potential growth.”

He pointed out that smaller and financially pressed public television stations around the country are in more need than ever of major, prime-time programming for their schedules. Kobin said the New York office will focus on finding funding and co-production arrangements for national and international program projects.

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Representing the station at its new mid-Manhattan office, which has been in operation with a staff of two since late last month, is Richard N. McHugh, a public relations, marketing, and advertising consultant to public television stations.

KCET’s national programming department was shut down in 1982, at the time of a major financial crisis at the Los Angeles station. Kobin reinstituted the department when he was named president and chief executive officer of the station, in 1983.

In addition to productions for the “American Playhouse” drama series, including the upcoming “Painting Churches,” scheduled for broadcast May 19, the station’s recent national productions include a music special aired last December and another aimed for next fall. But for a station its size, KCET lags behind public broadcasting’s two most active producing stations, New York’s WNET and Boston’s WGBH.

However, KCET recently has embarked on three major new, national series, still in need of underwriting. They are: “Discoveries Underwater,” an eight-part series of one-hour programs to be co-produced with the British Broadcasting Corp.; “American Ticket,” a previously announced weekly educational series for the functionally illiterate; and “Television,” a 10-part series on the history of the medium, acquired from Britain’s Granada Television and currently being “re-worked” jointly by KCET and New York’s WNET.

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