Originally published: October 9, 2010
Last updated: October 9, 2010 - 2:51pm
KCET, the Los Angeles PBS member station, has decided to break away from the public broadcasting network and become an independent station.
Starting in January, station officials intend to replace such iconic PBS fare as "Charlie Rose," "NewsHour," "Sesame Street" and "Masterpiece" with news and documentaries from Japan, Canada and elsewhere, along with old feature films. Without recognizable series to promote, KCET will likely find it difficult to gain traction with viewers. Moreover, the station will find it tough to produce or buy shows that generate strong ratings as program costs keep escalating. A pullout isn't good news for PBS, either, as it signals "to other PBS members that affiliation isn't that important anymore," according to Jeffrey McCall, a media expert at DePauw University. It also increases doubts about the long-term future of public broadcasting. "PBS certainly does not play the essential role it once did in the nation's media landscape," McCall said. "For years, PBS provided things that couldn't be had from the traditional networks," including public affairs and educational programs.
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting noted that KCET will operate as an educational television station, providing noncommercial, general interest programming and so will still be eligible for CPB support.
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