While much of the national TV focus on Saturday morning centered on the launch of the Oprah Winfrey Network, Southern California went through its own major on-air shuffle. KCET officially went indie after 40 years as a PBS affiliate, while Orange County-based KOCE-TV, rebranded “SoCal PBS,” became the region’s new primary PBS outlet.
As part of the change, KCET dropped its tagline “Infinitely More” (perhaps because, let’s face it, KCET is now having to do with less), which it had used since 1997. The station kept its logo (a variation of the infinity sign), but with a design tweak (above).
KCET was also hit with a bit of a coverage downgrade, as both Charter Communications and Cox Cable moved the station out of a prominent VHF channel position and into a new spot deeper inside the digital tier.
Effective today, for Charter subscribers (which number about 376,800 in Southern California, including Glendale and Burbank), KCET now appears on channel 309. And on Cox (which includes Santa Barbara), KCET is now on channel 129.
Both Charter and Cox made the move in order to keep PBS’ primary station — now KOCE — in the more trafficked VHF band.
KCET prexy/CEO Al Jerome said the station accepted the move in order to continue to clear its multicast channels — which now include KCET Kids and Family and MHz Worldview — on those two cable operators.
“In an effort to improve public media service for our viewers, KCET made a strategic decision to retain its digital multicast channels, which will be KCET Kids and Family, Vme and MHz Worldview,” Jerome told Variety. “This has impacted our channel positions with some cable services. Our new digital channel strategy empowers us to pursue our mission to offer a wide range of programs that feature diverse perspectives. By placing KCET’s standard definition channel on 309, Charter customers can watch KCET’s multicast programming on all four channels with a simple push of the ‘+’ button. “
Jerome noted that KCET remains in the same channel position on most local cable providers, such as Time Warner and Comcast, while its position on DirecTV and Dish also remains unchanged.
Meanwhile, KCET isn’t the only organization losing some ground in the shake up. Over-the-air viewers in Santa Barbara and the Central Coast depended on KCET translators for their PBS programming. Those KCET translators remain, of course, but with no other over-the-air PBS options, non-cable and non-satellite viewers in Santa Barbara and the area will be (at least temporarily) without PBS.
“We are working to acquire translators that will expand our coverage to the desert cities and other outlying areas,” said KOCE spokesperson Lindsey Neal. “Unfortunately, that takes time and funding to make it happen. In the meantime, we’ve worked with Cox Communications to ensure coverage to Santa Barbara.”