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Two major Southern California public broadcasters are joining forces.

PBS SoCal and KCETLink Media announced plans Wednesday to merge. The move would join Southern California’s largest PBS member broadcaster with the nation’s largest independent public broadcaster, creating an entity that would reach more than 18 million people. The merger is expected to close in the first half of 2018, at which time the name of the new organization will be announced.

“Fifty years ago, a surge of innovation and inspiration created public television as we know it today,” said KCETLink board chair Dick Cook and Jim McCluney, chairman of the PBS SoCal board of trustees, in a joint statement. “In this dynamic time for media, this is exactly the right moment to marry the complementary core strengths of each of our organizations. Our new company combines PBS SoCal’s beloved quality programming and community engagement excellence with KCETLink’s passion for creating smart, original content that captures the spirit of the region. We are very excited to advance content creation in public media and continue to successfully implement innovative technologies to reach new and diverse audiences.”

Cook will serve as board chair for the new organization, with PBS SoCal chief executive Andrew Russell becoming president and CEO. The organization will be governed by a 32-person board of trustees made up of 14 members from each of the boards of KCETLink and PBS SoCal, as well as four new board members.