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KCET Logo.png
Los Angeles, California
City of license Los Angeles, California
United States
Branding KCET
Slogan Inspiring A Better State
Channels Digital: 28 (UHF)
Virtual: 28 (PSIP)
Subchannels (see article)
Translators (see article)
Affiliations Noncommercial independent
Owner KCETLink
First air date September 28, 1964
Call letters' meaning Community
Cultural and
Sister station(s) Link TV
Former channel number(s) Analog:
28 (UHF, 1964–2009)
59 (UHF, 2000–2009)
Former affiliations NET (1964–1970)
PBS (1970–2010)
Transmitter power 155 kW
Height 926 m
Facility ID 13058
Transmitter coordinates 34°13′26″N 118°3′44″W / 34.22389°N 118.06222°W / 34.22389; -118.06222
Licensing authority Federal Communications Commission
Public license information: Profile
Website www.kcet.org

KCET, channel 28, is a non-commercial educational, independent television station located in Los Angeles, California, USA. The station's studios are located in Burbank, California, and its transmitter is located atop Mount Wilson.

KCET was a charter member of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) at its inception in 1970. The station was Southern California's flagship PBS member station until December 31, 2010, when it ended its partnership with PBS after 40 years to become the nation's largest independent public television station. KCET's management cited unresolvable financial and programming disputes among its major reasons for leaving PBS.[1] KOCE-TV (channel 50), licensed to Huntington Beach in Orange County, replaced KCET as the area's primary PBS station.[2] KLCS is now the only PBS station in Los Angeles.

For much of its time on air, KCET had broadcast from its studios in Hollywood until moving to new offices in Burbank's media district in 2012. The move has left CW affiliate KTLA (channel 5) as the last remaining radio or television broadcaster in that neighborhood as stations have moved on to other cities and neighborhoods in the region.

In October 2012, KCET announced that it was merging with non-commercial satellite network Link TV to form a new nonprofit entity, to be called "KCETLink" and headquartered in KCET's Burbank facilities; the merger is intended to also simulcast LinkTV on one of KCET's subchannels.[3]


KCET first signed on the air on September 28, 1964 as an affiliate of National Educational Television (NET), with Jim Case heading all of the program direction. James Loper, a co-founder, served as the station's director of education from 1964 to 1966 and then vice president and general manager from 1966 to 1971.[4] Loper then became President of KCET from 1971 to 1983.[4][5] It was actually the second attempt at an educational station in the Los Angeles area: KTHE, operated by the University of Southern California, had previously broadcast on channel 28, beginning on September 22, 1953.[6] It was the second educational television station in the United States, signing on six months and four days after KUHT in Houston, Texas, but it went dark after nine months due to its primary benefactor, the Hancock Foundation, determining that the station was too much of a financial drain on its resources. In 1970, KCET became a charter member of PBS. For most of the next 40 years, it was the second most-watched PBS station in the country.

The call letters KCET stand for "Community Educational Television", not to be confused with the organization of the same name formed by the Daystar Television Network in 2003, which made an unsuccessful bid to purchase KOCE.

KCET's long time studios in Los Angeles.

Previously, KCET was headquartered in a historic area of Hollywood, used as a film and television studio from 1912 to 1970. KCET purchased the former Monogram Pictures property in 1971, assisted financially in part by both the Ford Foundation and the Michael Connell Foundation. The newest building was named the Weingart Educational Telecommunications Center and housed KCET's master control, digital control rooms, ingest, and editing stations on the first floor and engineering, new media operations, and news and public affairs on the second floor.

On October 8, 2010, KCET announced that it could not reach an agreement to remain with PBS and would become an educational independent station on January 1, 2011. In a letter to viewers, board chairman Gordon Bava said that PBS wanted KCET to pay $7 million for its programming – more than double what KOCE was paying.[7] KCET remains a member of American Public Television's APT Exchange.

On March 30, 2011, the Los Angeles Times reported that KCET was in negotiations to sell the Hollywood studio to the Church of Scientology, with KCET relocating to a smaller location following the sale, in light of KCET's sharp decreases in ratings and pledges following dismembership from PBS.[8] The sale of the property, which was sold for $45 million,[9] closed on April 25, 2011, with part of the proceeds going towards KCET's leasing of the studios[9] until new facilities were found.[10][11] KCET relocated to a new complex in a high-rise state-of-the art building, The Pointe, in April 2012, located in Burbank.[9] At the end of the 2011 Fiscal Year, contributions and grants to KCET decreased even further, down 41% from the previous year to $22.3 million.[9]

In October 2012, KCET announced it was merging with San Francisco-based Link Media to form KCETLink, a single 501(c)(3) transmedia organization, based in Burbank. KCETLink reaches a much wider broadcast audience that includes Link Media's 33 million subscribers on DirecTV and Dish Network, and KCET’s 5.6 million households in Southern and Central California.[12]

On September 10, 2014, it was announced that after negotiations with the Los Angeles Unified School District, owners of PBS member station KLCS, KCET and KLCS will consolidate their broadcast signals onto one over-the-air channel band, so the remaining wireless spectrum can be divested during the FCC's 2015 spectrum incentive auction. Both stations will retain separate licenses.[13][14] Earlier in the year, KLCS had participated in a trial of channel sharing with KJLA.[15][16][17][18]

Station slogans[edit]

  • "Community Supported Television" (c. 1976–198?)
  • "Member Supported Television for Southern and Central California" (198?–1997)
  • "Rethink TV" (January–December 2011)
  • "Be Moved" (December 2011–November 2012)
  • "Infinitely More" (1997–2010, 2012–present)


As the flagship PBS station for the Pacific Time Zone, KCET was a major producer of PBS programming. It produced the acclaimed Carl Sagan series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage from 1978 to 1979. KCET produced or presented Hollywood Television Theater, Trying Times, and the Hispanic family drama American Family for PBS, and was one of the consortium of stations that produced American Playhouse.

To commemorate the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, KCET produced a six-part miniseries in conjunction with the BBC called Auschwitz: Inside the Nazi State.

As of 2007, productions include its award-winning and signature news and public affairs program Life & Times hosted by Val Zavala (underwritten by The Whittier Foundation, Jim & Anne Rothenberg, QueensCare, The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation, Boeing, and the City of Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department). Huell Howser's California's Gold was produced at the KCET lot, until its effective cancellation in 2013 following the death of Howser.

KCET also produced the weeknight talk show Tavis Smiley and a PBS science show, WIRED Science. A television program designed for care-givers, A Place of Our Own and its Spanish language equivalent, Los Niños en Su Casa are taped at the KCET studios, produced with a grant from BP.

A few children's programs have also come from KCET – Storytime, The Puzzle Place, Adventures from the Book of Virtues, The Charlie Horse Music Pizza, and Sid the Science Kid (the latter now airing on KOCE).

KCET also produced California Connected, a television newsmagazine about various people, places and events throughout California, co-produced with KQED in San Francisco, KVIE in Sacramento, and KPBS in San Diego. This series ended its run in 2007 after five seasons.

On December 9, 2010, KCET announced its new program schedule after its dismembership from PBS in 2011. Programming included movies; travel, science, and drama programs, Britcoms and news programs, as the station maintains their relationship with program syndicators American Public Television and NETA, among others, which allow non-PBS stations to air their programming. Some of the programs that were announced and/or continued on the new lineup include Globe Trekker, Rick Steves' Europe, Burt Wolf: Travels and Traditions, The Nature of Things with David Suzuki, The McLaughlin Group, Inside Washington, BBC World News, Keeping Up Appearances, As Time Goes By, Visiting With Huell Howser,[19] and KCET's newsmagazine, SoCal Connected.[20]

KCET's 2012 schedule included Open Call a weekly series showcasing arts and culture in Southern California hosted by opera singer Suzanna Guzmán; expansion of its interview program, LA Tonight with Roy Firestone; Your Turn to Care, a four-part documentary about caregivers hosted by Holly Robinson Peete; the BBC crime drama Inspector George Gently; the British ITV dramedy, Doc Martin; and Classic Cool Theater, a showcase of classic films, cartoons and newsreels.[9]

Digital television[edit]

All KCET programs are produced in high definition and the station's main channel is transmitted in 720p.

Channel Video Aspect PSIP Short Name Programming[21]
28.1 720p 16:9 KCET-HD Main KCET programming
28.2 480i 4:3 KCET-LN KCET Link
28.3 KCET-Vm V-me
28.4 N H K NHK World

In 2000, KCET signed on a digital signal on UHF channel 59. For its first seven years operating a digital signal from 2000 to 2007, the majority of the programming on KCET's high definition subchannel 28.1 (outside of most primetime shows) was different from the main signal on analog channel 28 (which was initially operated on digital subchannel 28.2 and was later replaced with "KCET Orange"), as was with most other PBS stations with HDTV capabilities. With the arrival of new programming services from PBS and V-me (which airs on digital subchannel 28.3) in mid-2007, programming from the main signal was integrated into the HD subchannel to accommodate for space, while at the same time preserving the integrity and demand for quality HD programming. In August 2007, KCET began broadcasting PBS World under digital subchannel 28.4. World's lineup includes programming related to world culture, news and history.

On June 12, 2009, KCET shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 28, as part of the digital transition in the United States. It had been broadcasting its pre-transition digital signal over UHF channel 59, from which it relocated to its former analog UHF channel 28, due to UHF channels 52-69 being removed from broadcasting use as part of the transition to digital television.

On January 1, 2011, with the suspension of its active membership in PBS, 28.2 became "KCET Kids and Family" airing mostly children's programs, 28.3 remained V-me (which operates independently of PBS), and 28.4 began airing MHz Worldview. The former had 28.2 as KCET Orange and 28.4 as PBS World. In March 2013, KCET Kids and Family was replaced with KCETLink, simulcasting LinkTV-licensed content.

On August 5, 2013, KCET dropped [1] MHz Worldview;[22] it was replaced by NHK World.

Other ventures and partnerships[edit]

One of KCET's multicast channels was digital subchannel network "KCET Orange", which aired on subchannel 28.2 until the January 2011 PBS dismembership, and the majority of Southern California digital cable systems. The network aired programs like Life and Times, plus additional arts and cultural programming tailored to Orange County.

Another KCET digital cable channel was KCET Desert Cities, which was available to Time Warner Cable subscribers in the Palm Springs/Coachella Valley area until the January 2011 PBS dismembership.[citation needed] It was carried on TWC channel 218, and its programming schedule differed from the main Los Angeles signal.

In 2006, KCET established a partnership with California State University, Fullerton. The signature program offering resulting from the partnership was the public-affairs show "OC Insight", which aired through 2011 when the partnership ended. Students and faculty from the university's College of Communications were integral to the show's production. Jeffrey D. Cook, the university's chief communications officer, served as executive producer of OC Insight during the show's final two years.

KCET offered their studio facilities to commercial productions to provide themselves an additional stream of revenue. The former Hollywood facility has been used mainly for the productions of the Game Show Network, including 2007's Camouflage and the 2010 revival of The Newlywed Game. KCET's studios also hosted the MTV game show webRIOT and the California Lottery's Saturday evening programs, The Big Spin and Make Me a Millionaire.


KCET utilizes several repeaters to extend its coverage:

Call sign Analog channel Digital channel City of License Ownership Notes
K16FC-D no 16 San Luis Obispo KCET originally on channel 15 as K15BD, displaced for KSBY-DT
K26FT-D no 26 Santa Barbara KCET
K28GY-D no 28 Santa Barbara, etc. KCET
K46II-D no 46 Bakersfield KCET
K47CC-D 47 no Victorville KCET
K14AT-D 14 no China Lake, etc. Indian Wells Valley TV Booster
K31JM-D no 31 (soon) China Lake, etc. Indian Wells Valley TV Booster currently holds a construction permit
K51DD-D no 51 Ridgecrest Indian Wells Valley TV Booster

FCC actions[edit]

On February 4, 2011, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) fined KCET $10,000 for failure to make its public file available for inspection by the general public. The fine stemmed from an incident on August 19, 2010, when an FCC agent, not identifying himself as such, told the security guard on duty that he would like to see the public file; the guard denied him access, as he was told that he would need to make an appointment. A return visit the following day (August 20) gave the same results. It was not until another visit that day that the agent was able to see the public file, but only after identifying himself as an FCC agent. According to the FCC document, the Executive Assistant for KCET explained that "the General Counsel of Station KCET was not in the office during those two days and that she did not know the exact organizational rules regarding public access to the station's public inspection file." The Security Supervisor also said that he was just following the station's security procedures. The FCC later levied the fine, citing that while security delays are reasonable, the fact that the examiner was unable to see the public file without an appointment and without identifying himself as an FCC agent led to the fine.[23]


  1. ^ Collins, Scott (October 8, 2010). "Los Angeles PBS affiliate KCET exits network fold to go independent". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 28, 2013. 
  2. ^ Larsen, Peter (October 8, 2010). "KOCE takes over as top PBS station after KCET cuts ties with network". The Orange County Register. Retrieved October 10, 2010. 
  3. ^ Collins, Scott (October 17, 2012). "KCET announces merger with satellite network Link TV". Los Angeles Times. 
  4. ^ a b "R.I.P. James Loper". Deadline.com. 2013-07-11. Retrieved 2013-08-05. 
  5. ^ Nelson, Valerie J. (2013-07-10). "James L. Loper dies at 81; helped make KCET a public broadcasting power". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2013-08-05. 
  6. ^ "Telecasting Yearbook 1954-55" (PDF). Broadcasting Telecasting: 64. 1954. Retrieved June 18, 2013. 
  7. ^ Bava, Gordon. "Rethinking public television in Southern California and the new KCET". KCET. Retrieved June 18, 2013. 
  8. ^ Vincent, Roger; Collins, Scott (March 30, 2011). "KCET-TV said to be in talks to sell landmark studio to Church of Scientology". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 30, 2011. 
  9. ^ a b c d e Collins, Scott (February 9, 2012). "Funding down 41% at KCET". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 28, 2013. 
  10. ^ "Church of Scientology Acquires Hollywood Studio Facility" (Press release). PRWeb. April 25, 2011. Retrieved February 28, 2013. 
  11. ^ "KCET Sells Production Studios To Church Of Scientology". CBS Los Angeles. April 25, 2011. Retrieved February 28, 2013. 
  12. ^ Alumia, Angelica (October 17, 2012). "KCET & Link Media Announce Merger Establishing an Innovative Model for Public Television" (Press release). KCET. Retrieved February 28, 2013. 
  13. ^ "KCET, KLCS In Channel-Sharing Partnership". TVNewsCheck. 10 September 2014. Retrieved 10 September 2014. 
  14. ^ "KCET, KLCS to Share Channel and Give Up Spectrum for Auction". Variety. Retrieved 10 September 2014. 
  15. ^ "FCC Grants STA for L.A. Spectrum Sharing". TV Technology. Retrieved 17 March 2014. 
  16. ^ "TV Stations in Los Angeles to Share a Channel to Free Up Spectrum". The New York Times. Retrieved 17 March 2014. 
  17. ^ "LA trial finds that broadcasters can share their TV channels". Gigaom. Retrieved 29 March 2014. 
  18. ^ "Overview of the KLCS/KJLA Channel Sharing Pilot — A Technical Report". Alan Popkin, Director of Television Engineering & Technical Operations, KLCS-TV, Los Angeles
    Roger Knipp, Broadcast Engineer, KLCS-TV, Los Angeles
    Eddie Hernandez, Director of Operations & Engineering, KJLA-TV
    . Retrieved 21 May 2014.
  19. ^ Williams, Cathy (December 9, 2010). "KCET Announces New Program Schedule" (Press release). KCET. Retrieved December 13, 2010. 
  20. ^ "SoCal Connected". KCET. Retrieved February 28, 2013. 
  21. ^ RabbitEars TV Query for KCET
  22. ^ MHz Networks Blog, retrieved August 7, 2013 
  23. ^ "NOTICE OF APPARENT LIABILITY FOR FORFEITURE: In the Matter of Community Television of Southern California, Licensee of Noncommercial Educational TV Station KCET, Los Angeles, California, Facility ID. No. 13058". Federal Communications Commission. February 4, 2011. Retrieved June 18, 2013. 

External links[edit]