OC'S PBS SoCAL & LA's KCET ANNOUNCE THEY WILL MERGE
In 2003, KCET (then LA's flagship PBS affiliate) was one of the bidders to acquire KOCE when KOCE's sale to a religious broadcasting network by the Coast Community College District that owned it seemed imminent. However, the OC community rallied to raise the funds to buy the station in a complicated scenario. KOCE was initially on very shaky financial ground but OC's pride of ownership was secured.
Fifteen years later, it is KOCE that is the "white knight," acquiring KCET after the LA station's ill-fated "divorce" from PBS in 2010. That separation made KOCE the flagship PBS station for all of the LA market, and its fortunes soared when PBS's "Downton Abbey" hit the airwaves. And while KCET distinguished itself with some critically praised original productions, it suffered major viewership reductions and has been plagued by severe financial challenges forcing it to sell assets and take on debt to keep operating.
Today's announcement by KOCE-KCET calls it a "merger of equals," that will result in one of the nation's largest PBS affiliates. The two Boards will be combined and KOCE's CEO Andy Russell will become CEO of the new entity. A name and branding will be announced at a later time.
Below is a photo of CEO Andy Russell (right) accepting Arts Orange County's Achievement Award given to PBS SoCal in 2016 at the OC Arts Awards, with ArtsOC Board member Bill Cusato, Director - Service Engineering & Operations Center, Commercial Aviation Services, The Boeing Company.
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