Orange County’s KOCE becomes L.A.’s primary PBS affiliate

Koce
As we reported last week, now that longtime L.A. PBS outlet KCET has dumped its affiliation, Orange County’s KOCE has signed on to become the region’s primary PBS affiliate.

Move becomes effective Jan. 1, when KCET goes independent. It’s quite a reversal of fortune for KOCE, which nearly went off the air a few years ago.

“At KOCE we are saddened to learn of the departure of KCET from the PBS family effective January 1st. The good news for all of us who live in this region is that thanks to KOCE, as well as our partner PBS stations, KLCS and KVCR, quality PBS shows will continue to be available, without interruption, throughout the LA television market,” said KOCE CEO Mel Rogers.

As part of the network, KOCE confirmed that it will work out a programming consortium with SoCal’s other two PBS stations: the Inland Empire’s KVCR and the L.A. Unified School District’s KLCS.

“KOCE will assume the PBS common carriage obligations and work with our partner stations to ensure all PBS shows are not only available, but are easy to find for our viewers,” Rogers said. “PBS fans can rest assured their shows will not go away and that at KOCE we will do what is needed to make sure that is the case.”

KOCE nearly went all-religious in the mid-2000s, after original owner Coast Community College District put the station up for sale. Religious broadcaster Daystar bid $25 million for the station, but in an attempt to keep KOCE a PBS outlet, Coast Community College District instead sold the station to the KOCE Foundation, which offered less cash upfront.

Daystar then sued the District, an appeals court found that the deal with KOCE Foundation was illegal. Eventually, KOCE Foundation struck a deal with Daystar, ending their legal battle. As part of the deal, Daystar’s religious programming airs on a KOCE digital subchannel.

Read all about what’s next for KCET — including potential program alliances with public radio stations KCRW and KPCC — here.

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