Sustainability of KCET

Can KCET survive with multiple $200,000 executive/vice president salaries? Should KCET merge with Orange County public tv station and carry one PBS feed? Carry exclusive Nokia, Disney and Hollywood Bowl concerts that could be sold to Mexico, South American TV?

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I think it would be better if KCET went commercial. A Chevrolet aid is much less nauseating that some guy whining every 15 minutes trying to sell some overpriced CD's.

I haven't forgiven public television for the Gershwin award thing yet. While I think Paul Mcartney is a great entertainer, the blatant political pandering to an unpopular, one term president was in bad taste. I thought the Gershwin award was intended for American musicians and songwriters. Paul Simon was deserving, Stevie Wonder was deserving, Paul Mcartney is a great musician and performer but not an American and the political slathering of with all of the cutouts to the Obama family was nauseating. There will be no donations from me for things like that. You are better off seeking grants. Or selling commercial air time.
I think the quality of the programming otherwise is such that it should be a success commercially and would be a welcome change from the idiotic sitcoms. You would be better off without the baggage that comes from PBS.
Tex

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LOVE it! I, too was angered at this blatant pandering to the current administration....regardless of the artist.

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I made a donation last week, as I have been doing for over thirty years. But I wonder... This business with PBS is worrying. As is the endless repetition of the same old shows to fill time for the endless fundraising requests. Last night was truly offensive: the L.A. Times said "Nova" and "Masterpiece Theatre" but neither was there; instead we got a repeat of some 3rd rate singer who had been on already last week. If you are going to dump programs like News Hour, Masterpiece Theatre, Nova, we will dump you--I have nothing against Rosemary Clooney, but if I want to see/hear her same performance again and again, I can buy a DVD.

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Good to know you are making donations. I run my own Dental Insurance business, and I always donate 10% of my income to PBS. I just think they do a fantastic service.

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Hello all,

I wanted to thank all of your for comments; we take your input incredibly seriously and hope to have a resolution to this situation shortly. In the meantime, I wanted to direct you to a statement from KCET's President and CEO Al Jerome about what has been happening. He will be answering questions in the blog there, so please do feel free to share your thoughts with him.

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I haven't been watching KCET much lately mostly because of the endless fundraising. I am shocked to hear that you might stop carrying my favorite programs -- Nova and Frontline. If you stop carrying these and other favorite programs of your longtime viewers, you won't have anybody left. I do watch the other PBS stations sometimes, and hope that if you do go under, they will continue to carry Nova and Frontline.

Please try to make internal adjustments -- you know what I mean! --
in order to continue to serve your longtime public.

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As a former KCET fund raiser, I soon learned that the staffers were divided between the old timers whom Al Jerome could not lay off and the others whom the administration churns because after all, this is TV! I will put up with anything! Some of the older timers were referred to as "roaches" by us "newbies" which is probably as good as any term. Most of them are "has beens" as is Al. It is high time that Al Jerome and his cronies be swept away or LA deserves the pitiful public TV that it will be getting as donors back off. Ron Bitzer, former KCET Staffer

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I just turned off KCET because they are re-running Aretha again for how many nights this week??? There has got to be a better way to raise funds than the wrung-out pledge drive model. At least when they run a continuing series, such as Ken Burns, and they duplicate shows it makes sense. But come on - how many of these trite and tacky music shows can you buy? Endless chat, re-runs of the same show, you're losing your audience. I have limited disposable income, and I happen to listen to "public" radio also, so I feel the need to alternate my 3 pleading pledges each year. KCET offers Newshour, Frontline, and some other good shows, but the constant pledge weeks are causing me some major headaches. Maybe someone can come up with some new ideas?

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I am glad you are working on some way to stop the endless fund raising. Indeed, I've given for 40-50 years. I have a nightly ritual of watching PBS - in fact I usually just leave it on KCET until some fund-raising musical drives me away. What I enjoy is PBS content and SoCal Connected. I only receive one of the stations you talk about, so if you make this agreement, I'll get half what I have. Maybe that will be ok. I'm glad you are thinking outside the box. Constant fund raising just drives us away. Jeanne Karpenko

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As an OTA (Over The Air) viewer, I have seen significant changes with local PBS stations. KOCE continues its death march into oblivion and KCET seems to have started a similar trend. KLCS seems to be more consistent and I find myself watching this station more and more (except when they now go off-air at 1AM).

I think it would be nice to have some uniqueness and common ground between the PBS stations, otherwise consolidation and loss is inevitable. The future is clearly VoD (Video on Demand) and how local PBS stations deal with this trend is potentially quite challenging.

How did KCET as a 100% contributor to PBS end up with only PBS World, while KLCS (at 25%) took PBS Kids and Create? Why did KCET provide a dedicated Hispanic channel that potentially divides our society with presumably a negative return (BTW, I think it's great to learn other languages, but without creating Quebec-like circumstance).

To remain viable in the short term, KCET needs to level the playing field with PBS. With appropriate uniqueness and common ground there can be a viable audience. With potentially three digital sub-channels, why not use a sub-channel to re-broadcast popular programs like BBC news, Nova, Frontline etc.

I realize that TV stations cannot please all-the-people all-the-time, but they can always do a better job of understanding and implementing viewers needs, commensurate with social trends, and not go overboard with fringe programs (like Tavis Smiley).

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Looking forward to the day when KCET takes its place among "Things That Aren't Here Any More."

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We don't need a separate Orange County KCET (28.2). If KCET's programming is better than KOCE residents and viewers from Orange County will donate to KCET or both. We don't need a separate Spanish language KCET (28.3). If KMEX or someone else wants Spanish language public TV let them finance it commercially, or subtitle English language programs in Spanish. I doubt we really need a "World" (28.4) for all the reruns; but if you really have to take advantage of the multiple channels then put what is absolutely essential on 28.2 and 28.3 on it and cancel the other two. We certainly don't need "multiple $200 salaries" whomever they go to. If KCET goes commercial I'll turn the channel selector elsewhere or turn the set off and enjoy yet another "Thing" that ain't there no more. I suspect this is a generated "crisis" by current management to take the station commercial under a "no-profit" aegis and loot excess wages for themselves.

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The flood of Spanish related programming means I hardly watch KCET any more. Who wants to watch sub-titled programs? Why do you encourage dual language in our society. I can speak other languages, but don't go around confusing people. In my opinion, the management of KCET is out of touch and unable to perceive the bigger picture.

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I have to agree with Mary Mc Namara's comments in the LA times concerning moving Masterpiece Mystery from Sunday to Thursday,cannot see how this will encourage viewers to support your programming. Classic movies are great , readily available and not necessary on KCET. Original ,well done series sustains viewer loyalty that is essential to build and acquire a larger viewing audience.

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That KCET and other low financed southland public TV stations are planning to network and go commercial is already in the news. If it is loyal to classic quality entertainment from the good old days, then it will continue to be a civilized media oasis for baby boomers. But if it airs the same cop, doc and tired sitcoms found everywhere on cable, then this will mark the end of good TV as we know it. KCET has a rare chance to reinvent itself for its base audience and core fans. But loyal viewers still want to relive the innocent quality of the past. Public TV gave us that option. If it sticks with the program or retro programming without selling out to modern dreck like KDOC did, then it will expand its niche and be profitable. So I'm rooting for the change as long as KCET remembers who is watching and why.

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I feel betrayed by KCET deciding to disaffiliate with PBS and I completely disagree with Jeffrey McCall, who commented in the LA Times article that PBS does not play the essential role it once did. I believe the Newshour is irreplaceable. In a time of sensationalism and slanted news coverage, the Newshour was the only reliable place to go for actual news. KCET -- work this out with PBS!

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I agree that without the PBS content that I watch, there will be no reason for me to stay with KCET. I am a resident of Orange County but have never really watched KOCE because the level of programming is so far below that provided by KCET. Up to now, I would have said that you were doing a good job. This move could mean that you wouldn't survive as an independent. I can't imagine that PBS won't move to ensure that they have excellent representation in the LA metropolitan area with or without you.
This situation needs to be resolved and resolved quickly.

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Hello all,

I just wanted to thank all of you for your comments and for your clear commitment to both KCET and the health of Southern California's public television ecosystem overall. All of you raise valid questions, so I wanted to direct you to some articles and FAQs that the station has created in hopes of addressing some of your concerns:

An Open Letter from KCET Board Chair Gordon Bava

Frequently Asked Questions: KCET Going Independent

Ask Al: KCET Goes Independent (blog post from KCET President Al Jerome)

KCET To Go Independent Effective January 1, 2011 (press release)

As new items update I will post them here, but I do urge you to leave comments in the Al Jerome's blog, as those are most likely to get direct response him.

I also wanted to comment directly on something that I have posted a few places: Many changes are coming to the station, but KCET is not going commercial for profit. Our FCC license is for non-profit, educational programming, and, moreover, becoming a for-profit, commercial station station would not be in keeping with our mission as an organization.

This LATimes article has some further information on KCET's license / non-profit status.

Thanks again for your comments!

Gary Dauphin
KCET.org Site Manager/Editor

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Apologies, the link to the LATimes article I referenced above did not publish properly. You can find it here: http://articles.latimes.com/2010/oct/08/entertainment/la-et-1009-kcet-20101009/3

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KCET's withdrawal from PBS is the height of folly and hubris. We're not going to be watching or donating to KCET without Masterpiece, Masterpiece Mystery, History Detectives, Frontline, Washington Week, American Masters, etc. We've tuned to KCET for 40 years for those programs. We were angered when KCET started a desultory, ordinary movie line-up on Sunday, didn't watch it, and were forced to forgo other programs we like on Thursdays to watch Mystery.

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Can KCET survive without PBS? NO! I rely on KCET to provide the excellent programming offered by PBS. If KCET carries out its decision to drop PBS I will not longer subscribe. In fact, I will demand my current contribution be returned to me as having been solicited under false pretentions.

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Well, tonight I settled in to watch Masterpiece Theater and was presented with "Edward Scissorhands" instead. I think you people have lost your minds. I don't want to watch Masterpiece on Thursdays! It's a Sunday night tradition. I'm not free on Thursday nights.

I've been a watcher and supporter for many years but since I don't live in Los Angeles, my interest has always been the PBS shows. If KCET is going to turn into nothing more than a vehicle for showing old movies and fundraising shows, I see no reason to continue my financial support. Why don't you cut some salaries and get your priorities straight.

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I'm saddened to see that KCET will no longer be a PBS station, but due to poor management, this station has been circling the drain for years now. Most unnerving is the schedule change of Masterpiece Theater to Thursday evenings. Since the ONLY reason I watched was for the PBS programs and not the local content, you won't see any donations from me. Other PBS stations replay the late Julia Child's cooking shows (among other shows) and I can't believe that those would be more expensive than Antiques Roadshow, History Detectives or Masterpiece Theater. By the way, I have been trying to get my mom's name OFF the mailing list since she passed away and KCET has continued to solicit money....if this is how you spend your money and use your resources (employees), then it is NO wonder that you're in such trouble.

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You are right. Every time I see a pledge drive, it was music for the boomers. I remember when I used to pledge money for KCET because they knew smart intelligent people watched shows like Frontline, Nova, and Mystery.

I remember the first time I fell in love with KCET and that was programs like the Brain with Richard Restak or his other series the Mind. I was only a preteen when I used to imagine being a doctor or researcher.

Then I remember the days they used to have Doctor Who on Saturday Mornings. When I was excited to drive on the bus to the KCET shop to buy my TARDIS Mug.

Or when they had Mystery on Thursday nights (which they went back to that time slot). Or this Old House on Saturday, or when gardening was the big thing on Saturday Mornings. Or when on Sundays you didn't know what the theme was until it came out. I was always waiting for a science theme.

Why can't KCET go back and learn from those times or learn from the Create channel. I see Create more than I see KCET, for KCET lost faith on those members that supported them in the past.

I was at Kanas City, Mo, and their PBS channel was exciting! At least they had the new Doctor Who series.

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I just received a fund-raising letter, saying "help ensure that the programs you trust to inform, enlighten, and entertain continue." Seems like you need to update your material. The question is: do I donate now (as I have for years), in the HOPES that you will deliver programs that I like, or do I wait and see if there is anything interesting. You must have plans for 1/1/2011 - or are you just going to have dead air? Why won't you TELL us? I think I will wait until I see what your schedule looks like ...

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We here in SLO county will be without any other public tv channel, since only KCET relays it's signal up here. We are currently lobbying Charter to carry KQED or any of the Central Valley public tv outlets in lieu of KCET's bland offering. They spent all that money on this awful website and converting to multi-channel DTV and we will be left with crap. I suggest the "members" sue to remove the execs and take over the station themselves. What were we paying for all these years?

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Sadly the station I grew up with has no shows to watch after January 1st. The only shows I watch are from PBS, the local programing is rarely interesting. I don't understand how anyone imagines a station will exist after that. How many Huell Howser shows can one watch? I'm certainly not interested in supporting a station that has no programing.

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I too want to join the chorus that questions your long term sustainability without PBS programming. Unfortunately, I did not learn of the move to drop PBS until after I sent in my yearly pledge. Without PBS Kids, the best kids programming on TV (for my grandson for whom I provide regular child care), or the best unbiased news program, the PBS Newshour, or adult programming like Frontline or Nova, there is not much reason for me to continue to watch KCET, let alone continue as a subscriber. If something is not worked out with PBS, I will no longer be a supporter of your station.

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I just learned News Hour would not stay on KCET. Both my wife and I have contributed for many years and I feel left out in the cold. Why the big secret? Could this not have been explained and discussed before such a decision was made? Now on this site I see all PBS programs will no longer be shown. We have never liked what Val and Huell do--is this the type of show we will now see in place of PBS shows? You can bet no more support will come from us! I feel betrayed for past support!

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I see that KCET has nothing on their web page schedule after Friday Dec 31st. I guess they are going to shut down, after spending the past month begging for dollars using the PBS Pledge Break programs for the last time. Now that Charter has decided to drop them in favor of KQED, I don't care. I went to KQED's website and found it so clear & easy to use with no glitches. They also give you a schedule that is all on one page and shows a whole month at a glance. Thank God we finally have KQED back - we here on the Central Coast have been lobbying for that for years and KCET just handed it to us! Thanks guys. Happy New Year!

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Hi irush,

Just wanted to note that KCET is not and will not be shutting down. As part of the wind-down of the relationship with PBS we are changing the schedule line up. You can find a list of the new shows here: http://www.kcet.org/about/pressroom/press-releases/kcet-announces-new-program-schedule-1.html

Thank you,

KCET.org Site Team

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KCET has betrayed its subscribers! It WAS a vibrant and important station because of its mix of outstanding PBS and local programming. I sent money because it offered programs not found anywhere else... even with 500 channels. I stopped giving money because KCET turned its back on the greater LA area. I urge all PBS lovers to donate to the Orange County PBS station and hold it accountable for greater depth and breadth of programming. KCET... you squandered your reputation and the good will of those who were loyal to you. Your new line up does not inspire me. You lost my loyalty because ot it.

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Damn!

I loved KCET.

Now, I hate it.

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Again KCET fails to realize the poor programming and technical choices it makes. Again on the Hi Def main channel, there is a program that is being broadcast in letterbox format in standard definition which means that there is black areas on four sides plus a green bar where the video starts. This is totally unacceptable from a station that was one of the first high definition station in Los Angeles. The technically quality of the broadcast from KCET has sunk to a new low. Yet Al seems to not to realize or care what is transmitted from KCET purely from a technical standpoint, never mind the artistic quality of the programming.

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As someone who was born outside the United States (Cuba) I grew up watching KCET, public television, and PBS since I was 10 years old. It is now so sad to have to stop watching KCET after 41 years because of your choice in not accepting or agreeing to the terms PBS demanded. Such great programing is and was essential to your station. And the loss of it has made your new format unacceptable and completely unwatchable. So I now bid you a good night my old friend. And may your end come sooner than later.

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I love the Doc Martin Series. It has been frustrating to experience the stops and starts KCET made regarding this program. I hope you plan on airing series 3 and 4 also.

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I would like to join the chorus of protest against dropping the PBS broadcasts such as the Newshour and Frontline. KCET has it completely wrong -- my wife and I are dedicated to those shows, not the local drivel. Not having those available will not just drive me away from KCET, I'll just shut the TV off until the next Laker game. Not understanding the importance of those programs as the backbone of your station is pathetic. The people responsible for these decisions are dunderheads. I am truly sorry we already sent in our annual contribution. If the programming doesn't change, it will be our last.

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I would like to join the chorus of protest against dropping the PBS broadcasts such as the Newshour and Frontline. KCET has it completely wrong -- my wife and I are dedicated to those shows, not the local drivel. Not having those available will not just drive me away from KCET, I'll just shut the TV off until the next Laker game. Not understanding the importance of those programs as the backbone of your station is pathetic. The people responsible for these decisions are dunderheads. I am truly sorry we already sent in our annual contribution. If the programming doesn't change, it will be our last.

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I have been a loyal KCET viewer since childhood (I am now a 41 year old physician). The decision by management to drop PBS programming is a blunder like no other. I absolutely hate the new programming. This is a loss that has left me angry and mystified. What on earth was the thinking behind this stupid decision. I will not be renewing my donation to KCET. The board and management should all be fired.