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Session to Put Future of Channel 50 in Focus : Trustees of Golden West College to Take Up Report Urging KOCE Be Used as ‘TV Academy’

Times Staff Writer

To its supporters, KOCE-TV, Orange County’s only public television station, is a symbol of pride and educational value.

To its critics, however, Channel 50, which has its studio at Golden West College in Huntington Beach, is a tax drain and an affront to traditional education.

During the past three years, the station’s activities have provoked a heated debate in the Orange Coast Community College District. The controversy is expected to escalate next Wednesday night, when the district Board of Trustees hears reports on whether KOCE might be used as a “television academy” for academic study.

The proposal, which surfaced last December, surprised and angered some longtime faculty critics, who thought the TV station’s future was short. Indeed, the Board of Trustees had voted in the summer of 1984 to start phasing out district financial support for KOCE-TV over a 30-month period.

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Divestiture Vote

At the same time, the board also voted to divest itself of the station by transferring its license to another entity, possibly the private foundation that raises money for the station.

The divestiture vote followed a bitter 1983 election campaign in which the newly elected board majority criticized the amount of financial support the district had been giving to the station.

Each of the three new board members was elected with support of the teachers’ union, which had strongly criticized the college district’s funding of KOCE at a time when officials were laying off about 100 classroom teachers due to budget cuts.

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One of the first moves by the new board was to call for a management study of the KOCE operation. But last December, Chancellor David Brownell proposed that the college district keep the TV station and turn it into the biggest telecommunications training center in Orange County.

Profit Anticipated

He said the station and its studios would attract up to 300 full-time students a year and “generate a net profit.” The station also could continue broadcasting the Public Broadcasting System programs as services to the community, he added.

Although the college district has reduced its support for the station from $2 million in 1983 to $1 million this year, some teachers are still critical that district money is going to the station.

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Judith Ackley, president of the American Federation of Teachers Local 1911--which represents teachers at Orange Coast, Golden West and Coastline community colleges--said in a newsletter earlier this month that the union would not be satisfied with KOCE funding as it now stands.

“We will not accept business as usual at KOCE,” she said. “The decision about how much resources the district devotes to KOCE has a significant effect on the dollars that are available to fund other district programs.

“We believe a massive reorganization is necessary if KOCE-TV is to achieve its potential as a cost-effective instructional resource.”

The Board of Trustees will discuss but not vote on the KOCE issue at its Wednesday meeting, district officials said.

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