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KCET Launching OC Channel

By Chris Hannigan and Michael Lyster

Los Angeles public TV station KCET-TV said Wednesday it’s working with California State University, Fullerton, to create a channel focused on Orange County.

The channel, KCET Orange, is set to start airing a year from now and focus on local arts and culture, educational shows and news and public affairs.

“There will be a large infusion of Orange County programming,” said Al Jerome, chief executive of KCET.

A production studio hasn’t been picked yet, according to Jerome. The station plans to look at Cal State Fullerton and other local production facilities, he said.

KCET plans to have a management team based here and a KCET Orange advisory group working on programming and community outreach.

The station already has raised money in OC, Jerome said. Station officials plan to meet with companies, foundations and individual donors here, he said.

Some see the move as a shot across the bow of KOCE-TV, the Huntington Beach public TV station that’s fighting off a buyout bid from televangelist Daystar Television Network.

“KOCE provides a valuable service,” Jerome said. “Orange County is very well served having more programming, rather than less. We don’t look at this as being competitive. We look at this as expanding to where we already have a large audience segment.”

Mel Rogers, president of KOCE, said he believes people still will regard his station as OC’s public TV channel.

“While we should take seriously this KCET effort in OC, I do not think this is something that should cause us to be terribly concerned,” Rogers said.

KCET faces a challenge in getting cable operators to offer KCET Orange, according to Rogers. Initially, only homes picking up digital signals via an antenna may be able to see it, he contends.

“However, if they manage to get cable carriage and as a result more people see more OC happenings, that will be a good thing,” he said.

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