Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Will KCET Ever Reunite With PBS?
In this week's Broadcasting and Cable, reporter John Eggerton speaks to KCET Board Chairman Gordon Bava, who discusses the station's recent decision to dump PBS and go independent.
Would KCET ever look to once again become a PBS station? "That is certainly a possibility... When the dust settles and we see maybe in a couple of years what the future of PBS holds and its role will be, we certainly would be open to returning on a reasonable and sustainable basis," Bava told the trade publication.
The L.A. Times' Jim Rainey is shocked by Bava's comments: "But given Bava's previous tough talk about PBS and its fees, he must have stunned a lot of people by holding the door open to a renewed relationship with KCET. I doubt many of the people in charge at PBS would welcome a second marriage."
When I spoke to PBS CEO Paula Kerger earlier this month, I asked her the same question: Would she be willing to bring KCET back into the fold as a secondary PBS station for Los Angeles?
She seemed surprised by my question, and couldn't fathom such a notion. Yet that's what KCET wanted all along: It didn't want the cost burden of being L.A.'s primary PBS station anymore. That's why KCET proposed a partnership with fellow local PBS stations KOCE, KVCR and KLCS. The idea was to share programming and not have one primary PBS affiliate here.
But time ran out -- and KCET, in its haste, decided to pull the plug all together when PBS balked at the idea. But with KCET out of the picture, a consortium between KOCE, KVCR and KLCS has indeed blossomed. KOCE GM Mel Rogers even told me that he can see a time when KOCE isn't a primary PBS station, as all three outlets share programming.
KCET needs programming, and I bet they'd be willing to become a secondary PBS station even as KOCE continued as the primary PBS station here. (Which would be a reversal of how it used to be, when KCET got first crack at PBS programming while stations like KOCE waited their turn for secondary runs.)
But quite honestly, I don't think PBS is looking to reestablish a partnership with KCET anytime soon.