The newly formed KCETLink will be available beginning January 1 in 33 million households via DirecTV and Dish Network as well as 5.6 million in Southern California, where KCET, the nation’s largest indie pubcaster, is based. KCET boss Al Jerome will be CEO. The tie-up comes just about two years after KCET dropped its PBS affiliation after serving as its flagship West Coast station for the past four decades, at the time citing the need for greater programming flexibility and a fee reduction. KCETLink will operate out of KCET’s new Burbank facility after it sold its longtime studio on Sunset to the Church of Scientology. Here’s the official release:

LOS ANGELES AND SAN FRANCISCO, OCTOBER 17, 2012 –– KCET, the nation’s largest independent public television station, and Link Media, an independent non-profit media company that operates the Link TV national satellite network and online international news portal, LinkNews (news.linktv.org), today announced a merger to create KCETLink, a powerful new independent public transmedia company that acquires, produces and distributes provocative global programming targeted to a national audience across multiple media platforms.

The newly-formed company will be available in 33 million households via DIRECTV and DISH Network and 5.6 million households on KCET in Southern California, the nation’s 2nd largest television market. On TV, web and mobile platforms, KCETLink will offer viewers more direct access than ever before to high-quality culturally diverse content.

KCETLink will be led by Al Jerome as Chief Executive Officer, with Link TV’s CEO and President, Paul S. Mason, becoming Chief Strategy Officer based in Los Angeles. The company will be headquartered in KCET’s new state-of-the-art production facility in Burbank, CA, where it will tap into the diversified, creative community on the west coast as a go-to, one-stop source for producers whose mission is to create high-caliber programming.

“With our combined resources, we are taking a bold step forward to become architects of a new sustainable model for the industry to keep public media thriving as a vital resource in the digital age,” said Al Jerome, President and CEO of KCET.

“This is more than just a merger of two organizations, but an enormous opportunity to reinvent the value and purpose of ‘independent media’ as a vitally important source of cultural ideas, global connectivity and diverse perspectives in the U.S.,” said Paul S. Mason, President and CEO of Link TV, and an Emmy-Award-winning veteran of ABC News.

Link Media, which harnesses the latest technology to engage a next generation audience with breaking news from across the globe, will join KCET’s award-winning digital media team to focus on developing new technology and programming for web and mobile, such as an upcoming app that curates world news videos for the iPad and Google TV.

United by a shared mission to bring powerful stories and media to diverse audiences, the new KCETLink will be a single organization supporting two distinct brands. Link TV will continue to serve audiences via DIRECTV and DISH Network, providing a wide array of rich, culturally focused programs that inspire, inform and engage audiences with the world around them. Hits include the internationally award-winning drama series Borgen, which airs in the U.S. exclusively on Link TV. The Daily Beast calls Borgen “The best political show ever,” and The New York Times calls it “one of the best shows on American television.”

Beginning Jan.1, LinkTV programming will be available on one of KCET’s three digital multi-cast channels in the Southern California market, providing viewers in the 11 counties of the Los Angeles market with access to Link TV’s news, documentaries and music from around the world. In addition, LinkAsia, a unique half-hour program combining state news from Asia with trends and commentary bubbling up through social media, will be added to KCET’s current international news broadcast schedule.

KCET’s primary channel will continue to air its own locally produced and acquired programs that explore the people, places and topics that are relevant to the vibrant region of California that it remains committed to serving. Viewers will still be able to watch their favorite original and acquired programs on KCET’s schedule, including Doc Martin, Foyle’s War, Primeval, Open Call, Huell Howser and SoCal Connected.

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