PBS SoCal to Invest $49 Million Auction Revenues

LOS ANGELES —PBS SoCal KOCE, the flagship PBS station for Southern California, including Los Angeles, announced it earned $49 million in the FCC incentive auction and will invest the one-time revenues in content, broadband distribution platforms and its financial well-being. The station said it would continue broadcasting the full line-up of PBS programs on “all four of its current channels over the air, via cable and satellite and online.”

“Our priority as the primary PBS station for greater Los Angeles is to ensure we can deliver PBS programs to the 18 million people across the six counties in our region well into the future. We retained the bandwidth necessary to accomplish that,” said Andrew Russell, president and CEO of PBS SoCal. “The one-time auction revenues allow us to achieve another important objective: to invest in expanding our mission by providing more services to more people across the region.”

PBS SoCal said it would retain most of its coverage through a channel-sharing agreement with KSCI. The reinvestment plan includes “increasing investment in PBS and other programming, making strategic investments in content production and broadband services that reach more audiences via mobile and web, and building a strong financial foundation for PBS SoCal’s future by restructuring debt and creating an investment fund that generates annual revenues.”

Russell continued, making a pitch to Viewers Like You: “PBS SoCal remains deeply committed to serving Southern California and advancing the PBS mission. While these one-time auction revenues will help us expand our mission, we are grateful for the individuals, foundations and corporations whose collective ongoing support comprises more than 80 percent of our annual budget. Your support continues to be essential – particularly as our important federal funding is under threat – to ensuring the news, public affairs, arts and science programs that are critical for an educated and informed citizenry.”

The PBS SoCal announcement noted that “the president’s budget proposes the elimination of federal funding for public broadcasting, which amounts to $1.35 per citizen per year and underwrites programs such as “Daniel Tiger,” documentaries from Ken Burns, “PBS NewsHour” “Frontline” and “Masterpiece Theater.”

“There is no viable replacement for federal funding of public broadcasting,” Russell said. “The one-time funds from the spectrum auction will not come close to closing the large fiscal gap that would be left by the loss of annual federal support. Federal funding is vital seed funding that helps stations raise the local support that represents more than half of our annual budgets.”