“KCET” is infinitely no more. Well, sort of. The Los Angeles-based public broadcaster still exists, and “KCET” remains its legal call letters. But effective Tuesday, Feb. 6, the station will start branding itself on air as “PBS SoCal Plus.” That brings it further in line with its sister station PBS SoCal (KOCE-TV), with which it merged in 2018.
Beyond that, the programming mix won’t change, but there will be further program sharing behind both outlets under the unified brand. According to the public broadcaster, the brand unification is meant to stop any confusion that may still exist between PBS SoCal and KCET now that they are operated under one roof. The two stations have already merged their two websites into one, under the PBS SoCal name — and now they will operate in tandem under that one name everywhere else too.
More from Variety
Dan Ferguson, PBS SoCal’s senior VP of marketing and communication, said the name change was made after they said audience research supported the consolidation.
“While traditional, over-the-air, broadcast programming and scheduling efforts will continue to be as vital as ever to our organization’s success, the new branding effort recognizes the current media landscape and PBS SoCal’s commitment to on-demand and digital-first content for both regional and nationwide audiences,” Ferguson said. “This change ensures we are following what the community has requested and aligns the local flagship organization with the trusted values and brand strength associated with the PBS name.”
KCET was originally Los Angeles’ primary PBS station, but dropped its relationship with the public broadcasting service at the end of 2010 due to a dispute over its dues. KCET then went independent, while KOCE — originally based in Orange County (where its city of origination is Huntington Beach) — became the market’s new primary PBS station and rebranded as “PBS SoCal.”
“PBS SoCal and KCET merged in 2018, and since then, we have grown into a strong public media entity serving Southern California that reflects the diversity of our region and provides a full schedule of beloved and trusted PBS programs,” said PBS SoCal prexy/CEO Andrew Russell. “While the broadcast channel name may be changing, the programs that viewers love on KCET— “Artbound,” “Lost LA,” “Father Brown,” “Must See Movies” and more — will remain available on the channel and across all of our platforms. Our honored tradition, built by KCET, of producing original, thoughtful and inspiring content around the arts, local culture, environment, news and public affairs remains core to our deep commitment of serving our community with high-quality public media.”
Viewers will now only see the call letters “KCET” during hourly FCC-manded legal I.D. callouts (kind of like “KOCE” on PBS SoCal). Over the air, KCET remains on Channel 28, while KOCE is on Channel 50.
In commercial broadcast TV, duopolies across the country have also started branding their secondary stations with a “Plus” tag and de-emphasizing those stations’ call letters — particularly in the Fox Television Stations group. In Los Angeles, Fox has started referring to KCOP-TV (Channel 13) as “Fox 11 Plus,” paired with KTTV “Fox 11.” In San Francisco, Fox-owned KTVU is paired with another station dubbed “KTVU Plus” (actual call letters: KICU). And in Minneapolis, KMSP “Fox 9” is paired with sister station “Fox 9 Plus” (WFTC-TV).
Best of Variety