Say goodbye to KOCE.
Beginning in January, the Orange County public television station will become PBS SoCal.
The name change was announced in a telephone press conference today as KOCE takes over as the flagship PBS station for Southern California, replacing Los Angeles' KCET, which will stop airing PBS programs by the end of the year.
KOCE president and CEO Mel Rogers says the station has been "scrambling to fill the void" that KCET left in October when it decided to dump its longtime PBS affiliation due to a dispute over fees. That decision delivered a surprising gift of fortune to KOCE, which nearly fizzled off the air a few years ago. As PBS SoCal, the station gets all the popular PBS shows, including American Masters, Tavis Smiley (as reported by the Los Angeles Times, Smiley is not happy about the move), Frontline, Masterpiece Theater and Nova.
"The general mood can best be described as bewilderment," Rogers said. "[KCET] walked away from what I believe is the best media brand and best media content in the country."
PBS SoCal will broadcast in Orange County, along with Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernadino and Ventura counties and the city of Santa Barbara. At least for now, the station will continue to provide Orange County with local programming like Inside OC with Rick Reiff and Real Orange.
Rogers explained that KOCE has thought a lot about what the transition means for Orange County. "This is our home down here and we have affection for it," he said.
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Though there will be a shift.
"Obviously, we won't be able to focus on Orange County, but we won't ignore it," he said, adding that PBS SoCal will integrate Orange County news and issues into its Southern California coverage.
The station will move its headquarters from Golden West College in Huntington Beach to Costa Mesa by the end of the year, a decision that was made before it took on its new role.
Starting today, viewers can use a new centralized website, www.pbssocal.org, to find specific PBS programming and channel information.