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KCET Logo.png
Los Angeles, California
United States
Branding KCET
Slogan Local. Global. Connected.
Channels Digital: 28 (UHF)
Virtual: 28 (PSIP)
Translators (see article)
Affiliations Educational independent (to rejoin PBS in 2018)
Owner KCETLink Media Group
First air date September 28, 1964 (53 years ago) (1964-09-28)
Call letters' meaning
  • Committee for Educational Television
  • Community Educational Television
  • -or-
  • Cultural and Educational Television
Former channel number(s)
  • Analog:
  • 28 (UHF, 1964–2009)
  • Digital:
  • 59 (UHF, 2000–2009)
Former affiliations NET (1964–1970)
PBS (1970–2010)
PBS World (until 2011)
MHz Worldview (2011–2013)
V Me (2006-2017)
Transmitter power 155 kW
Height 926 metres (3,038 feet)
Facility ID 13058
Transmitter coordinates 34°13′26″N 118°3′44″W / 34.22389°N 118.06222°W / 34.22389; -118.06222
Licensing authority FCC
Public license information: Profile

KCET, channel 28, is a non-commercial educational, independent television station located in Los Angeles, California, United States owned by KCETLink. The station's studios are located in Burbank, California, and its transmitter is located atop Mount Wilson.

KCET was a charter member of the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) at its inception in 1970. The station was Southern California's flagship PBS member station until December 31, 2010, when it ended its partnership with PBS after 40 years to become the nation's largest independent public television station. KCET's management cited unsolvable financial and programming disputes among its major reasons for leaving PBS.[1]

For much of its time on air, KCET had broadcast from its studios in Hollywood until moving to new offices in Burbank's media district in 2012. The move has left CW affiliate KTLA (channel 5) as the last remaining radio or TV broadcaster in that neighborhood as stations have moved on to other cities and neighborhoods in the region.

In October 2012, KCET announced its merger with the non-commercial satellite network Link TV, forming a joint non-profit venture known as KCETLink, and adding Link TV as one of KCET's digital subchannels.[2] In April 2018, KCETLink announced that it would merge with KOCE-TV (which became the primary PBS station for Los Angeles following KCET's departure), and rejoin the PBS network as a secondary station.


KCET was actually the second attempt at an educational station in the Los Angeles area: KTHE, operated by the University of Southern California, had previously broadcast on channel 28, beginning on September 22, 1953.[3] It was the second educational television station in the United States, signing on six months and four days after KUHT in Houston, but it went dark after nine months due to its primary benefactor, the Hancock Foundation, determining that the station was too much of a financial drain on its resources.


KCET, licensed to the non-profit group Community Television of Southern California (CTSC), first signed on the air on September 28, 1964 as an affiliate of National Educational Television (NET).[4] Part of the station's initial funding came from four of Los Angeles's commercial stations–KNXT (channel 2; now KCBS-TV),[5] KNBC (channel 4),[6] KTTV (channel 11)[7] and KCOP (channel 13)[8]–along with grants from the Ford Foundation and the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare.[9] KCET initially broadcast in black and white from Monday through Friday.[10] James Loper, a co-founder of CTSC, served as the station's director of education from 1964 to 1966 and then vice president and general manager from 1966 to 1971.[11] Loper then served as president of KCET from 1971 to 1983.[11][12]

Prior to applying for and receiving a construction permit to build the new channel 28, CTSC attempted to acquire one of Los Angeles's seven existing VHF commercial stations. In 1968, Community Television of Southern California emerged as a potential buyer of KTLA's channel 5 license from then-owner Gene Autry,[13] but could not raise the cash needed to make a serious offer.[14] If CTSC succeeded in moving KCET to channel 5, the move would have mirrored a similar occurrence seven years earlier in the New York City area, where local broadcasters assisted a non-profit group in purchasing commercial independent VHF station WNTA-TV and converting it into non-commercial, educational WNDT (it is now WNET).

In 1970, KCET became a charter member of PBS. For most of the next 40 years, it was the second most-watched PBS station in the country.

 KCET's long time studios in Los Angeles.
KCET's long time studios in Los Angeles.

Previously, KCET was headquartered in a historic area of Hollywood, used as a film and television studio from 1912 to 1970. KCET purchased the former Monogram Pictures property in 1971, assisted financially in part by both the Ford Foundation and the Michael Connell Foundation. The newest building was named the Weingart Educational Telecommunications Center and housed KCET's master control, digital control rooms, ingest, and editing stations on the first floor and engineering, new media operations, and news and public affairs on the second floor.

In 1994, KCET and Store of Knowledge Inc., a Carson-based company, launched the KCET Store of Knowledge in 1994 in Glendale as the first of many partnership stores with PBS affiliates.[15]

In 2004, as part of its image-reclaiming public relations after the Gulf oil spill, BP started granting KCET half the funding for preschool shows including "A Place of Our Own" and "Los Ninos en Su Casa", a Spanish language version. The other half of the $50 million grants for the show and supporting outreach programs came from First 5 California plus additional funding from a secret donor. The show would win Peabody and local Emmy awards and be shown national over PBS. KCET renamed its production studio to BP Studios in thanks.[16]

PBS included BP's and other grants for the two pre-school shows in its complex progressive dues structures, even though the grants came with the stipulation that they could not be used for administrative costs. The PBS dues for KCET had previously been $4.9 million but with the grants included the dues increased by 40% to close to $7 million. Other large funding sources that had previously been counted on were shrinking and thus could not be tapped to pay the dues. KCET's request that these specific grants which were restricted to show production only not be counted towards the dues owed was denied; PBS executives indicated that PBS stations were expected to anticipate their dues and increase their reserves to pay them and therefore would not grant special treatment for KCET. With the January 2010 1/2 year payment coming up, KCET offered to reduce their status to a secondary affiliation, reducing the dues owed to a total of $1.3 million; due with CPB paying $750,000 and a special campaign to raise the rest. PBS rejected the offer, insisting the station to remain as the primary affiliate.[16]

Independent public station

On October 8, 2010, KCET announced that it could not reach an agreement to remain with PBS and would become an independent public television station on January 1, 2011. After channel 28 left PBS, KOCE-TV (channel 50), licensed to Huntington Beach in Orange County, replaced KCET as the area's primary PBS station.[17] Prior to the new affiliation arrangement, KCET discussed plans to purchase KOCE-TV from its licensee, the Coast Community College District, but later opted to not place a bid for the station. In 2006, KCET launched a digital channel, KCET Desert Cities, for digital television and cable for the Coachella Valley. In September, KCET announced a similar channel for Orange County in partnership with California State University, Fullerton to be launched in late 2007.[18]

Also, a proposed consortium of PBS stations in the region–KCET, KOCE, secondary Los Angeles affiliate KLCS (channel 58) and San Bernardino-licensed KVCR (channel 24)–was proposed to be formed to unite various functions, certain programming, fundraising and marketing, to save money;[19] however, KCET passed on the offer.

With the ending of PBS affiliation on January 1, 2011, KCET changed its subchannels:

  • .1 going independent,
  • .2 changing to KCET Kids & Family,
  • .3 V-me continued,
  • .4 and PBS World will be replaced by MHz Worldview and
  • KCET Desert Cities and KCET Orange converted to KCET Kids & Family with its shows moving to KCET’s daytime lifestyle block.[20] KCET primary subchannel offered themed nights during the first year of operation.[21]

On February 4, 2011, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) fined KCET $10,000 for failure to make its public file available for inspection by the general public.[22] On March 30, 2011, the Los Angeles Times reported that KCET was in negotiations to sell the Hollywood studio to the Church of Scientology, with KCET relocating to a smaller location following the sale, in light of KCET's sharp decreases in ratings and pledges following disaffiliation from PBS.[23] The sale of the property, which was sold for $45 million,[24] closed on April 25, 2011, with part of the proceeds going towards KCET's leasing of the studios[24] until new facilities were found.[25][26] KCET relocated to a new complex in a high-rise state-of-the art building, The Pointe, in April 2012, located in Burbank.[24] At the end of the 2011 Fiscal Year, contributions and grants to KCET decreased even further, down 41% from the previous year to $22.3 million.[24]

In August 2011, KCET and Eyetronics Media & Studios, former Walt Disney Company executive Dominique Bigle's company, agreed to partner on producing or acquiring Southern California focused original series.[27]

KCETLink station

In October 2012, KCET announced it was merging with San Francisco-based Link Media to form KCETLink, a single 501(c)(3) multimedia organization, based in Burbank. KCETLink reaches a much wider broadcast audience that includes Link Media's 33 million subscribers on DirecTV and Dish Network, and KCET’s 5.6 million households in Southern and Central California.[28] Link's feed on Cable/Satellite was renamed KCETLINK and replaced KCET Kids & Family on subchannel 28.2.

On July 9, 2013, NHK World was selected as the replacement for MHz Worldview on subchannel 28.4. (MHz Worldview moved to a subchannel of KLCS-DT.)[29]

On September 10, 2014, it was announced that after negotiations with KLCS's licensee, the Los Angeles Unified School District, KCET and KLCS will consolidate their broadcast signals onto one over-the-air channel band, so the remaining wireless spectrum can be divested during the FCC's 2016 spectrum incentive auction. Both stations will retain separate licenses.[30][31] Earlier in the year, KLCS had participated in a trial of channel sharing with KJLA.[32][33][34][35]

On January 5, 2015, former ABC Family boss Michael Riley is announced as the new CEO of KCETLINK, replacing Al Jerome who exited in March 2014.[36]

On March 30, 2017, KCET ceased carrying V-Me on its subchannel as the network transitioning to a commercial ad-supported channel. KCET is in the process of determining what might replace the network. It was replaced by KCETLink+ on the same day.[37]

Merger with KOCE, planned return to PBS

On April 25, 2018, KCETLink Media Group and the KOCE-TV Foundation announced that they would merge, effective by the end of the first half of 2018. KOCE will remain the primary PBS station for the market, but KCET will return to the network as a secondary member, and both stations will continue to provide their existing programming services. Once the merger is completed, KOCE will move from its Costa Mesa facility to the current KCET facility in Burbank, while maintaining the Costa Mesa location as a secondary facility. In a joint statement, the two organizations stated that this merger would "[combine] 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."[38][39]


While it acted as the flagship PBS station for the Pacific Time Zone, for the most part, KCET mainly acted as a distributor of Los Angeles-based productions for other independent producers, rather than producing much programming in its own right for the national PBS system.[40] It produced the acclaimed Carl Sagan series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage from 1978 to 1979. KCET produced or presented Hollywood Television Theater, Trying Times, and the Hispanic family drama American Family for PBS, and was one of the consortium of stations that produced American Playhouse.

To commemorate the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, KCET produced a six-part miniseries in conjunction with the BBC called Auschwitz: Inside the Nazi State.

As of 2007, productions include its award-winning and signature news and public affairs program Life & Times hosted by Val Zavala]. Huell Howser's California's Gold was produced at the KCET lot, until the series ended following Howser's death in 2013.

KCET also produced the weeknight talk show Tavis Smiley and a PBS science show, Wired Science. A television program designed for care-givers, A Place of Our Own and its Spanish language equivalent, Los Niños en Su Casa are taped at the KCET studios, produced with a grant from BP.

A few children's programs have also come from KCET – Storytime, The Puzzle Place, Adventures from the Book of Virtues, The Charlie Horse Music Pizza, and Sid the Science Kid (the latter now airing on KOCE).

KCET also produced California Connected, a television newsmagazine about various people, places and events throughout California, co-produced with KQED in San Francisco, KVIE in Sacramento, and KPBS in San Diego. This series ended its run in 2007 after five seasons.

 Karen Foshay, Judy Miller, Justine Schmidt, Bret Marcus, John Larson and Rick Wilkinson of KCET at the 69th Annual Peabody Awards for SoCal Connected: Up in Smoke
Karen Foshay, Judy Miller, Justine Schmidt, Bret Marcus, John Larson and Rick Wilkinson of KCET at the 69th Annual Peabody Awards for SoCal Connected: Up in Smoke

On December 9, 2010, KCET announced its new program schedule after its disaffiliation from PBS in 2011. Programming included movies; travel, science, and drama programs, Britcoms and news programs, as the station maintains their relationship with program syndicators American Public Television and NETA, among others, which allow non-PBS stations to air their programming. Some of the programs that were announced and/or continued on the new lineup include Globe Trekker, Rick Steves' Europe, Burt Wolf: Travels and Traditions, The Nature of Things with David Suzuki, The McLaughlin Group, Inside Washington, BBC World News, Keeping Up Appearances, As Time Goes By, Visiting With Huell Howser,[41] and KCET's newsmagazine, SoCal Connected.[42]

KCET's 2012 schedule included Open Call a weekly series showcasing arts and culture in Southern California hosted by opera singer Suzanna Guzmán; expansion of its interview program, LA Tonight with Roy Firestone; Your Turn to Care, a four-part documentary about caregivers hosted by Holly Robinson Peete; the BBC crime drama Inspector George Gently; the British ITV dramedy, Doc Martin; and Classic Cool Theater, a showcase of classic films, cartoons and newsreels.[24]

Programming additions in 2015 include Moone Boy, Death in Paradise, Border Blaster & Earth Focus. Shows licensed on LinkTV that aired on KCET in 2014 including Arab Labor and Borgen are also part of the ongoing schedule.


KCET utilizes several repeaters to extend its coverage:

Call sign Analog channel Digital channel City of License Ownership Notes
K16FC-D no 16 San Luis Obispo KCET originally on channel 15 as K15BD, displaced for KSBY-DT
K26FT-D no 26 Santa Barbara KCET
K28GY-D no 28 Santa Barbara, etc. KCET
K46II-D no 46 Bakersfield KCET
K47CC-D 47 47.1 Victorville KCET
K41CB-D no 41.4 Lucerne Valley KCET Standard Def. (No Microwave Reception, uses DSS as a source)
K14AT-D 14 no China Lake, etc. Indian Wells Valley TV Booster
K31JM-D no 31 (soon) China Lake, etc. Indian Wells Valley TV Booster currently holds a construction permit
K51DD-D no 51 Ridgecrest Indian Wells Valley TV Booster


  1. ^ Collins, Scott (October 8, 2010). "Los Angeles PBS affiliate KCET exits network fold to go independent". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 28, 2013. 
  2. ^ Collins, Scott (October 17, 2012). "KCET announces merger with satellite network Link TV". Los Angeles Times. 
  3. ^ "Telecasting Yearbook 1954-55" (PDF). Broadcasting Telecasting: 64. 1954. Retrieved June 18, 2013. 
  4. ^ "KCET(TV) begins ETV in Los Angeles." Broadcasting, September 28, 1964, pg. 100.
  5. ^ "CBS gives $250,000 to California ETV." Broadcasting, August 26, 1963, pg. 38.
  6. ^ "New NBC grant to ETV." Broadcasting, November 11, 1963, pg. 66.
  7. ^ "Metromedia gives $250,000 to L.A. ETV." Broadcasting, July 15, 1963, pp. 45-46. [1][2]
  8. ^ "More money for L.A. ETV." Broadcasting, February 10, 1964, pg. 86.
  9. ^ "KCET(TV) gets grant." Broadcasting, October 5, 1964, pg. 58.
  10. ^ Stein, Jeannine (June 16, 1989). "R.S.V.P. : Black-Tie Gala Helps KCET Celebrate 25 Years on the Air". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 18, 2014. 
  11. ^ a b "R.I.P. James Loper". Deadline Hollywood. 2013-07-11. Retrieved 2013-08-05. 
  12. ^ Nelson, Valerie J. (2013-07-10). "James L. Loper dies at 81; helped make KCET a public broadcasting power". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2013-08-05. 
  13. ^ "Bids are made for Golden West." Broadcasting, March 11, 1968, pp. 36, 38. [3][4]
  14. ^ "'NSF' puts educators out of KTLA purchase." Broadcasting, March 25, 1968, pg. 9.
  15. ^ White, George (16 September 1997). "New Theme Player". Los Angeles Times. 
  16. ^ a b Collins, Scott (October 22, 2010). "How $50 million in donations led KCET to split from PBS". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 18, 2014. 
  17. ^ Larsen, Peter (October 8, 2010). "KOCE takes over as top PBS station after KCET cuts ties with network". The Orange County Register. Retrieved October 10, 2010. 
  18. ^ Berthelsen, Christian (September 21, 2006). "KCET Plans Channel With O.C. Content". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 18, 2014. 
  19. ^ Collins, Scott (October 8, 2010). "Los Angeles affiliate KCET is leaving the PBS network". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 18, 2014. 
  20. ^ Villarreal, Yvonne (December 28, 2010). "KCET announces digital channel lineup". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 19, 2014. 
  21. ^ Collins, Scott (December 28, 2010). "KCET divides new programming lineup into themed blocks". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 20, 2014. 
  22. ^ "NOTICE OF APPARENT LIABILITY FOR FORFEITURE: In the Matter of Community Television of Southern California, Licensee of Noncommercial Educational TV Station KCET, Los Angeles, California, Facility ID. No. 13058". Federal Communications Commission. February 4, 2011. Retrieved June 18, 2013. 
  23. ^ Vincent, Roger; Collins, Scott (March 30, 2011). "KCET-TV said to be in talks to sell landmark studio to Church of Scientology". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 30, 2011. 
  24. ^ a b c d e Collins, Scott (February 9, 2012). "Funding down 41% at KCET". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 28, 2013. 
  25. ^ "Church of Scientology Acquires Hollywood Studio Facility" (Press release). PRWeb. April 25, 2011. Retrieved February 28, 2013. 
  26. ^ "KCET Sells Production Studios To Church Of Scientology". CBS Los Angeles. April 25, 2011. Retrieved February 28, 2013. 
  27. ^ Collins, Scott (August 17, 2011). "KCET to team with Eyetronics Media & Studios for original shows". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 5, 2018. 
  28. ^ Collins, Scott (October 17, 2012). "KCET announces merger with satellite network Link TV". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 19, 2014. 
  29. ^ Alumia, Angelica. "KCETLink Partners with NHK WORLD TV to Launch 24-Hour Channel in Southern California". KCET. Retrieved 26 January 2015. 
  30. ^ "KCET, KLCS In Channel-Sharing Partnership". TVNewsCheck. 10 September 2014. Retrieved 10 September 2014. 
  31. ^ "KCET, KLCS to Share Channel and Give Up Spectrum for Auction". Variety. Retrieved 10 September 2014. 
  32. ^ "FCC Grants STA for L.A. Spectrum Sharing". TV Technology. Retrieved 17 March 2014. 
  33. ^ "TV Stations in Los Angeles to Share a Channel to Free Up Spectrum". The New York Times. Retrieved 17 March 2014. 
  34. ^ "LA trial finds that broadcasters can share their TV channels". Gigaom. Retrieved 29 March 2014. 
  35. ^ "Overview of the KLCS/KJLA Channel Sharing Pilot — A Technical Report" (PDF). Alan Popkin, Director of Television Engineering & Technical Operations, KLCS-TV, Los Angeles
    Roger Knipp, Broadcast Engineer, KLCS-TV, Los Angeles
    Eddie Hernandez, Director of Operations & Engineering, KJLA-TV
    . Retrieved 21 May 2014.
  36. ^ Collins, Scott. "KCET taps former ABC Family boss Michael Riley as new CEO". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 26 January 2015. 
  37. ^ "Viewer Message: V-me Digital Channel Turnover". KCET. Retrieved 29 March 2017. 
  38. ^ "Public TV stations KCET and KOCE to merge in shifting market". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 25 April 2018. 
  39. ^ Holloway, Daniel (2018-04-25). "PBS SoCal, KCETLink Agree to Merge". Variety. Retrieved 2018-04-25. 
  40. ^ Maerz, Melissa; Collins, Scott (December 26, 2010). "Why KCET never became a major player in the PBS network". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 19, 2014. 
  41. ^ Williams, Cathy (December 9, 2010). "KCET Announces New Program Schedule" (Press release). KCET. Retrieved December 13, 2010. 
  42. ^ "SoCal Connected". KCET. Retrieved February 28, 2013. 

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