Public Media Merger: KCET and Link Media Combine Forces

When I joined KCET nearly two years ago, I was excited to join the New Media Department in the adventure of developing a new model for public media. Since then, I've witnessed the team succeed -- with Juan Devis' Artbound, Katherine Spiers' small farms project, and Brian Frank's Ballot Brief, to name a few examples -- in creating stories and content models that put us well on the path to that mission. Now today comes a major announcement in those regards: KCET is merging with the globally-minded Link Media to create KCETLink.

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If you're not familiar with Link, it's a an independent non-profit media company that operates a national satellite TV network (catch it on DIRECTV and DISH Network) and online international news portal. For the formalities, you can read the press release here, but I'd like to pull the two quotes from it, which I think are key to understanding all of this.

First, from Al Jerome, KCET's President and CEO: "With our combined resources, we are taking a bold step forward to become architects of a new sustainable model for the industry to keep public media thriving as a vital resource in the digital age."

And from Paul S. Mason, the President and CEO of Link TV: "This is more than just a merger of two organizations, but an enormous opportunity to reinvent the value and purpose of 'independent media' as a vitally important source of cultural ideas, global connectivity and diverse perspectives in the U.S."

The great thing about public media to me is that it's driven by a mission to serve. I'm always proud to say I'm with an organization that tells important and needed stories, be that through archives with our L.A. as Subject partnership, financial data in our election guide, or in-depth broadcast stories from "SoCal Connected" and "Your Turn To Care." So reading that this merger will beget goals of designing a new sustainable model and further reinventing the value and purpose of independent media is more than exciting.

One place these goals will be evident is in the digital space. For example, coming soon is the LinkTV World News iPad app, which will curate world news videos from around the world (it will also be for Google TV). As the dust settles from today's merger news, keep an eye out for more new technology and programming for web and mobile from our L.A. and San Francisco offices.

From the on-air side of things, the brands will pretty much remain distinct at the outset. You'll be able to watch LinkTV programming starting January 1 on one of our three digital channels. The channel will offer a lot, including great international feature and documentary films and original Link shows like "Mosaic," "LinkAsia," and "Earth Focus." And for those who follow news about TV might remember the a New York Times article that called "Borgen," a Danish drama that airs on Link, "one of the best" shows currently on American television (and earlier this summer The Daily Beast said it was the best show you've never seen).

There's a lot of excitement over here about this merger and I hope you feel it too. If you have any more questions, please do ask in the comments section below and make sure to check out this FAQ page.

About the Author

Zach Behrens is KCET's Director of News, Region and State, working on digital and on-air news products that relate to Southern California and beyond.
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As a fan of a hilarious show on Link called "
Arab Labor," from Israeli TV (written by an Arab-Israeli and which pokes fun at both Jewish and Arab-Israelis), I am thrilled by this news. So my question is: Will I be able to see this show and Borgen on my cable carrier in West L.A.: Time Warner? In other words: Will Borgen be shown (from its beginning) on the new station after January 1, 2013? Thanks.


Hey, leglaw! We're definitely looking into airing "Borgen" on KCET so more Southern Californians have a chance to see it -- because that would be pretty great, right? -- but this being the first official day of the merger, there's a lot of nitty gritty paperwork to go over to make that happen. So, yes, it's being talked about here, but at this point, I don't want to guarantee it will happen as you never know until everything has been signed off on. Sorry that's not the straightest answer, but keep an eye on this blog, TV Talk, for updates. Thanks!


KCET is the worst public access station ever, broadcasting decades-old programs and plaguing viewers for money constantly. The people who manage it should hide in shame. Where are the good quality PBS programs such as Frontline, NOVA, and Nature? Why should the viewers of KCET be deprived of that quality? Shame.


I'm excited. When I first learned that KCET was leaving PBS, I realized its national potential - to be an independent public broadcaster serving the entire country from Southern California with a unique Los Angeles perspective. That hasn't happened yet. With the LinkTV merger, there might be the vision to make national distribution of KCET's programming possible.


So Zach: What gives with this merger -- has it fallen through? I've noticed that both KCET & Link have maintained radio (or should I say TV) silence since the first announcement. I'm still hoping to get Link via KCET on my Time Warner system in West L.A. and getting to see Borgen, Arab Labor and the other Link programming.