KCET and KLCS to share channel space in spectrum-sale plan

KCET CEO Al Jerome at his office in Los Angeles in 2010.
(Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)

It’s getting a little crowded on that dial: KCET and KLCS are planning to share channel space.

The two public TV stations announced Wednesday that they had begun a partnership to split a single over-the-air broadcast television channel, even as their business and programming operations will remain separate.

Viewers will most likely not notice any difference, because advanced technologies have allowed broadcasters to compress more data into their available channel space than in the past. The remaining bandwidth would be available for a spectrum auction that the Federal Communications Commission plans to hold in 2015.


That could mean big money for the stations. The free bandwidth would go for unlicensed wireless use, which is eagerly sought by Google and other companies.

The move comes after a closely watched sharing test earlier this year between KLCS -- a PBS station licensed to the L.A. Unified School District - and Spanish-language KJLA. The test determined that the two stations could successfully share signal with minimal disruption, executives said.

In a statement, Al Jerome, president and chief executive of KCETLink, wrote: “We are pleased to forge this bold partnership with KLCS and chart new waters together,” adding that the “auction is a great opportunity to potentially gain significant resources that we can reinvest into programs and activities we provide to the community.”

In an ironic twist, the move brings KCET into its closest proximity with PBS in years. In early 2011, the station left the network after disputes over PBS dues and other issues. Since then, KCET has sold its Los Angeles studio, moved to Burbank and struggled with financial problems.

Twitter: @scottcollinsLAT