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KCET Logo.png
Los Angeles, California
United States
Branding KCET
Slogan Local. Global. Connected. (primary)
Channels Digital: 28 (UHF)
Virtual: 28 (PSIP)
Translators (see article)
Owner KCETLink Media Group
First air date September 28, 1964; 52 years ago (1964-09-28)
Call letters' meaning Community Educational Television
Former channel number(s)
  • Analog:
  • 28 (UHF, 1964–2009)
  • Digital:
  • 59 (UHF, 2000–2009)
Former affiliations
Transmitter power 155 kW
Height 926 metres (3,038 feet)
Facility ID 13058
Transmitter coordinates 34°13′26″N 118°3′44″W / 34.22389°N 118.06222°W / 34.22389; -118.06222Coordinates: 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 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. It is part of the KCETLink Media Group.

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 unsolvable financial and programming disputes among its major reasons for leaving PBS.[1]

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 left CW affiliate KTLA (channel 5) as the last remaining radio or TV broadcaster in that neighborhood as stations have moved on to other cities and neighborhoods in the region.


KCET 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.[2] 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.


KCET, licensed to the non-profit group Community Television of Southern California (CTSC), first signed on the air on September 28, 1964 as an affiliate of National Educational Television (NET).[3] Part of the station's initial funding came from four of Los Angeles's commercial stations–KNXT (channel 2; now KCBS-TV),[4] KNBC (channel 4),[5] KTTV (channel 11)[6] and KCOP (channel 13)[7]–along with grants from the Ford Foundation and the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare.[8] KCET initially broadcast in black and white from Monday through Friday.[9] James Loper, a co-founder of CTSC, served as the station's director of education from 1964 to 1966 and then vice president and general manager from 1966 to 1971.[10] Loper then served as president of KCET from 1971 to 1983.[10][11]

Prior to applying for and receiving a construction permit to build the new channel 28, CTSC attempted to acquire one of Los Angeles's seven existing VHF commercial stations. In 1968, Community Television of Southern California emerged as a potential buyer of KTLA's license from then-owner Gene Autry,[12] but could not raise the cash needed to make a serious offer.[13] If CTSC succeeded in moving KCET to channel 5, the move would have mirrored a similar occurrence seven years earlier in the New York City area, where local broadcasters assisted a non-profit group in purchasing commercial independent VHF station WNTA-TV and converting it into non-commercial, educational WNDT (it is now WNET).

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.

KCET's previous 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.

In 2004, BP started granting KCET half the funding for preschool shows including A Place of Our Own and Los Ninos en Su Casa, a Spanish language version. The other half of the $50 million grants for the show and supporting outreach programs came from First 5 California plus additional funding from a secret donor. The show would win Peabody and local Emmy awards and be shown nationally over PBS. KCET renamed its production studio to BP Studios in appreciation.[14]

KCET originally planned to purchase fellow PBS station KOCE-TV (channel 50), licensed to Huntington Beach in Orange County, from the Coast Community College District but dropped out previous to bidding.[15] In 2006, KCET launched a digital channel, KCET Desert Cities, for digital television and cable for the Coachella Valley. In September, KCET announced a similar channel for Orange County in partnership with California State University, Fullerton to be launched in late 2007.[15]

PBS included BP's and other grants for the two pre-school shows in its complex progressive dues structures, even though the grants came with the stipulation that they could not be used for administrative costs. The PBS dues for KCET had previously been $4.9 million but with the new grants included the dues increased by 40% to close to $7 million. Other large funding sources that had previously been counted on were shrinking and thus could not be tapped to pay the dues. KCET's request that these specific grants which were restricted to show production only not be counted towards the dues owed was denied; PBS executives indicated that PBS stations were expected to anticipate their dues and increase their reserves to pay them and therefore would not grant special treatment for KCET. With the January 2010 half year payment coming up, KCET offered to reduce their status to a secondary affiliation, reducing the dues owed to a total of $1.3 million due with CPB paying $750,000 and a special campaign to raise the rest. PBS rejected the offer, insisting the station to remain as the primary affiliate.[14]

A consortium of the four existing PBS stations in Southern California—KCET, KOCE-TV, secondary Los Angeles affiliate KLCS (channel 58) and San Bernardino-licensed KVCR (channel 24)—was proposed with the idea of the stations uniting to share various functions, certain programming, fundraising and marketing, and to save money.[16][17] Although the consortium proposal was still considered viable by both PBS and KCET even after the station announced its independence, nothing further happened and the consortium never materialized.[18]

Independence from PBS[edit]

On October 8, 2010, KCET announced that it could not reach an agreement to remain with PBS and would become an independent public television station on January 1, 2011. After channel 28 left PBS, KOCE-TV replaced KCET as the area's primary PBS station.[19]

The newly independent KCET launched on January 1, 2011 with programming tied to themed nights including a Monday travel and action show night, Tuesday science and nature night, Wednesday drama night, and Friday news programming night.

With the ending of PBS affiliation on January 1, 2011, KCET changed its subchannels:

  • .1 going independent,
  • .2 changing to KCET Kids & Family,
  • .3 Vme continued,
  • .4 and PBS World replaced by MHz Worldview
  • KCET Desert Cities and KCET Orange converted to KCET Kids & Family with its shows moving to KCET’s daytime lifestyle block.[20] KCET primary subchannel offered themed nights during the first year of operation.[21]

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.[22] 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 disaffiliation from PBS.[23] The sale of the property, which was sold for a reported $45 million,[24] closed on April 25, 2011, with part of the proceeds going towards KCET's leasing of the studios[24] until new facilities were found.[25][26] KCET relocated to a new complex in a high-rise state-of-the-art building, The Pointe, in April 2012, located in Burbank.[24] 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.[24]

Recent developments[edit]

In October 2012, KCET announced it was merging with San Francisco-based Link Media to form KCETLink, a single 501(c)(3) multimedia organization, based in Burbank. KCETLink is a national independent broadcast and digital network which reaches a wide broadcast audience that includes Link Media's 35 million subscribers on DirecTV and Dish Network, and KCET’s 6.6 million households in Southern and Central California.[27] Link's feed on Cable/Satellite was renamed KCETLINK and replaced KCET Kids & Family on subchannel 28.2.

On July 9, 2013, NHK World was selected as the replacement for MHz Worldview on subchannel 28.4. (MHz Worldview moved to a subchannel of KLCS-DT.)[28]

In 2014, KCETLink saw a 10% year-over-year growth in revenue which included increased support from some of the nation's most respected foundations. In December 2014 alone the organization was the recipient of grants totaling $1.2 million.[29]

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 2016 spectrum incentive auction. Both stations will retain separate licenses.[30][31] Earlier in the year, KLCS had participated in a trial of channel sharing with KJLA.[32][33][34][35]

50th Anniversary - Inspiring a Better State

KCET marked its 50th Anniversary in September 2014 with a new slogan - "Inspiring a Better State" - and a broadcast special "KCET 50 Years at the Forefront" which celebrated half a century of groundbreaking programming that featured important voices of the station's past and present, including Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, journalist Bill Moyers, and political strategist Kerman Maddox. Simultaneously a 50th Anniversary hub (http://www.kcet.org/about/50/[36]) was launched which included an interactive timeline that follows KCET through the decades and gives an insight to the impact of local and regional events shaping California. The content includes reminisces from KCET staff members - some of whom have been at the station for decades - recalling their experiences working at the station; historical articles and photos; and reflections by contemporary authors and filmmakers on the impact KCET's programming has had on their lives and work. Site visitors were invited to "get inspired" and click on 50 things Californians can do to create a better state and were encouraged to send in their ideas as well, which were posted. An interactive 50th Anniversary Community kiosk served as a travelling arts and education exhibit throughout the Southland community. The kiosk visually displayed historical KCET touch points. Attendees at the various events - which ranged from the geographically diverse L.A. County Farmers' Markets, to downtown's Grand Performances, to the LA Times Festival of Books as well as the Pomona Book Festival - were asked the question "How Do You Envision a Better California?" Their answers, written on specially designed postcards, were scanned and displayed on the KCET website at kcet.org/betterstate.[37]

On January 5, 2015, former ABC Family boss Michael Riley was announced as the new CEO of KCETLink, succeeding Al Jerome who had announced his plans to retire in March 2014 and formally left the station in December, 2014.[38]


While it acted as the flagship PBS station for the Pacific Time Zone, for the most part, KCET mainly acted as a distributor of Los Angeles-based productions for other independent producers, rather than producing much programming in its own right for the national PBS system.[39] 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 Visiting was produced at the KCET lot, until its effective cancellation in 2013 following the death of Howser.[40]

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 were 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. In 2008 KCET began production on a new television newsmagazine SoCal Connected.,[41] anchored by Val Zavala, which subsequently also included a website. Winner of a Peabody(R) and two DuPont Awards, plus numerous Emmy Awards, Golden Mikes, LA Press Club Awards, two Gracies and a national Edward R. Murrow Award for Best News Documentary; the show begins its seventh season in January, 2016 with Zavala continuing as anchor.

Karen Foshay, Judy Miller, Justine Schmidt, Bret Marcus, John Larson and Rick Wilkinson of KCET at the 69th Annual Peabody Awards for SoCal Connected: Up in Smoke

On December 9, 2010, KCET announced its new program schedule after its disaffiliation 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,[42] and KCET's newsmagazine, SoCal Connected.[41]

Prior to its split with PBS, KCET began developing original content for its website, KCET.org. In 2008 it launched the web series Departures, a multidisciplinary project which, in collaboration with and input from the surrounding communities, explores the many neighborhoods of Los Angeles. In 2012, the online/onair series Artbound was launched, which covers the Southern California art scene. Winner of numerous awards, the multi-platform series produces weekly articles. With input from the public who vote on selected articles, short documentaries are broadcast on both KCET and Link-TV. Both original series continue into 2016.

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 special 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.[24]

Other in-house series include Artbound Presents Studio A and Border Blaster. Programming additions in 2015 included Moone Boy, Death in Paradise, Whitechapel, and Earth Focus. Shows licensed on LinkTV that aired on KCET in 2014 including Arab Labor and Borgen are also part of the ongoing schedule.

The first few months of 2016 saw the return of SoCal Connected as well as the introduction of the new in-house series Lost L.A. in partnership with the USC Libraries. Electronic Dance Music (EDM) show Real Scenes made its on-air debut in March, which also saw the premiere of the Long Beach Opera production of Fallujah, which was broadcast live on March 18 locally on KCET (and nationally on Link TV). In addition to the original new children's show, Bug Bites, the station also added three British mystery series - Luther, Shetland, and "The Fixer" - to its weekly line-up. The beginning of the year also included new seasons of the popular returning series Doc Martin and "New Tricks." In July, KCET added a classic movie night on Fridays with their "Must See Movies" series.

In anticipation of the November 2016 election, the news series SoCal Connected launched an online voter resource called BALLOT BRIEF in mid-July featuring daily videos, news posts, blogs and more from the August Democratic and Republican conventions. The BALLOT BRIEF online destination was continually refreshed, giving voters constant updates breaking down the party platforms for each Presidential candidate and what they committed to do if elected. Post conventions, the site featured the latest on the California ballot measures, updates on the United States Senate races, and provided information about voter resources, featuring Val Zavala explaining each of the Propositions in a minute. In addition, KCETLink Media Group announced the “Your Choice. Your Voice.” non-partisan campaign with actress/activist Kate Walsh dedicated to the importance of voting which ran both on air and online in the days before California’s primary election in May. The initiative was relaunched in August with KCETLink Media Group partnering with six additional local and national organizations representing diverse constituencies. The public service announcements (PSAs) addressed a variety of groups and demographics, many featuring such celebrities as George Takei, John Cho, Edward James Olmos, Vic Mensa and other notable influencers. The “Your Choice. Your Voice.” PSAs ran on KCET in Southern California and Link TV nationwide from August through the national election on Tues., Nov. 8. October saw the launch of two new original digital series on kcet.org, The Migrant Kitchen and Tending the Wild, both of which were fashioned into one-hour specials for later broadcast on KCET. Also in October, Israeli series Prisoners of War had its American television broadcast premiere on KCET in Southern California and Link TV nationally; the series, on which the television series Homeland was based, is being presented in Hebrew with English subtitles.


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 47.1 Victorville KCET
K41CB-D no 41.4 Lucerne Valley KCET Standard Def. (No Microwave Reception, uses DSS as a source)
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


  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. ^ "Telecasting Yearbook 1954-55" (PDF). Broadcasting Telecasting: 64. 1954. Retrieved June 18, 2013. 
  3. ^ "KCET(TV) begins ETV in Los Angeles." Broadcasting, September 28, 1964, pg. 100.
  4. ^ "CBS gives $250,000 to California ETV." Broadcasting, August 26, 1963, pg. 38.
  5. ^ "New NBC grant to ETV." Broadcasting, November 11, 1963, pg. 66.
  6. ^ "Metromedia gives $250,000 to L.A. ETV." Broadcasting, July 15, 1963, pp. 45-46. [1][2]
  7. ^ "More money for L.A. ETV." Broadcasting, February 10, 1964, pg. 86.
  8. ^ "KCET(TV) gets grant." Broadcasting, October 5, 1964, pg. 58.
  9. ^ Stein, Jeannine (June 16, 1989). "R.S.V.P. : Black-Tie Gala Helps KCET Celebrate 25 Years on the Air". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 18, 2014. 
  10. ^ a b "R.I.P. James Loper". Deadline.com. 2013-07-11. Retrieved 2013-08-05. 
  11. ^ 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. 
  12. ^ "Bids are made for Golden West." Broadcasting, March 11, 1968, pp. 36, 38. [3][4]
  13. ^ "'NSF' puts educators out of KTLA purchase." Broadcasting, March 25, 1968, pg. 9.
  14. ^ a b Collins, Scott (October 22, 2010). "How $50 million in donations led KCET to split from PBS". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 18, 2014. 
  15. ^ a b Berthelsen, Christian (September 21, 2006). "KCET Plans Channel With O.C. Content". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 18, 2014. 
  16. ^ Collins, Scott (October 8, 2010). "Los Angeles affiliate KCET is leaving the PBS network". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 18, 2014. 
  17. ^ http://bhcourier.com/kcet-awaits-pbs-decision-on-proposed-consortium-deal-with-koce-kvcr-and-kcls/
  18. ^ http://current.org/files/archive-site/ptv/ptv1019kcet-timeline.shtml
  19. ^ 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. 
  20. ^ Villarreal, Yvonne (December 28, 2010). "KCET announces digital channel lineup". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 19, 2014. 
  21. ^ Collins, Scott (December 28, 2010). "KCET divides new programming lineup into themed blocks". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 20, 2014. 
  22. ^ "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. 
  23. ^ 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. 
  24. ^ a b c d e Collins, Scott (February 9, 2012). "Funding down 41% at KCET". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 28, 2013. 
  25. ^ "Church of Scientology Acquires Hollywood Studio Facility" (Press release). PRWeb. April 25, 2011. Retrieved February 28, 2013. 
  26. ^ "KCET Sells Production Studios To Church Of Scientology". CBS Los Angeles. April 25, 2011. Retrieved February 28, 2013. 
  27. ^ Collins, Scott (October 17, 2012). "KCET announces merger with satellite network Link TV". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 19, 2014. 
  28. ^ Alumia, Angelica. "KCETLink Partners with NHK WORLD TV to Launch 24-Hour Channel in Southern California". KCET. Retrieved 26 January 2015. 
  29. ^ http://www.kcet.org/about/michael-riley-kcetlink-new-ceo.html
  30. ^ "KCET, KLCS In Channel-Sharing Partnership". TVNewsCheck. 10 September 2014. Retrieved 10 September 2014. 
  31. ^ "KCET, KLCS to Share Channel and Give Up Spectrum for Auction". Variety. Retrieved 10 September 2014. 
  32. ^ "FCC Grants STA for L.A. Spectrum Sharing". TV Technology. Retrieved 17 March 2014. 
  33. ^ "TV Stations in Los Angeles to Share a Channel to Free Up Spectrum". The New York Times. Retrieved 17 March 2014. 
  34. ^ "LA trial finds that broadcasters can share their TV channels". Gigaom. Retrieved 29 March 2014. 
  35. ^ "Overview of the KLCS/KJLA Channel Sharing Pilot — A Technical Report" (PDF). 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.
  36. ^ kcet.org/about/50/
  37. ^ kcet.org/betterstate
  38. ^ Collins, Scott. "KCET taps former ABC Family boss Michael Riley as new CEO". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 26 January 2015. 
  39. ^ Maerz, Melissa; Collins, Scott (December 26, 2010). "Why KCET never became a major player in the PBS network". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 19, 2014. 
  40. ^ http://www.kcet.org/lifeandtimes/about_us.php
  41. ^ a b "SoCal Connected". KCET. Retrieved February 28, 2013. 
  42. ^ Williams, Cathy (December 9, 2010). "KCET Announces New Program Schedule" (Press release). KCET. Retrieved December 13, 2010. 

External links[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.stationindex.com/tv/markets/Palm+Springs