James Loper, a founder and past president of KCET, LA’s former longtime PBS outlet, and longtime head of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, has died. His family tells the Los Angeles Times that Loper died Monday at his Pasadena home. He was 81. Loper helped establish KCET while a doctoral student at USC in the early 1960s. He was the station’s first director of educational television when it went on the air in 1964. Two years later he became vice president and later general manager and president, a position he held until 1983. During that time KCET produced three Peabody Award-winning programs: Hollywood Television Theater, which debuted in 1970; the Visions series in 1976; and Cosmos, the 1980 miniseries co-produced with astronomer Carl Sagan. Loper “left an indelible mark on the history of KCET and public television”, KCETLink CEO Al Jerome said in a statement to the Times. “Jim launched several national productions that aligned the Hollywood entertainment community with the newly emerging national program service PBS.” Loper went on to serve as executive director of the Television Academy from 1984 through 1999. During his tenure, the Emmy Awards were expanded to include cable. Loper also oversaw the academy’s move into its North Hollywood headquarters and the founding of the Archive of American Television, which chronicles television history through on-camera interviews with TV legends.
KCETLink announced today it will eliminate 22 full-time positions as part of a reorganization following its merger. KCET and Bay area-based Link Media announced in October that they were joining forces to create the national independent public media organization KCETLink. That merger came about two years after KCET dropped its PBS affiliation after serving as its flagship West Coast station for some 40 years. In a statement today, KCETLink said the decision to eliminate the 22 positions followed a close examination of every facet of the consolidated organization. “These are challenging and transformational times that require us to make difficult financial and operational decisions for the continued health of the organization in order to create a public media organization that can grow in the 21st Century,” said Al Jerome, KCETLink’s Chief Executive Officer. “In addition, we have to factor digital innovation into every decision moving forward, which has required us to design a new paradigm that operates multiple platforms simultaneously and continues to offer engaging new productions to our viewers.”
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 sale was for an undisclosed amount. The location is at 4401 West Sunset Boulevard. Transfer doesn’t happen for a year. KCET is now transforming itself into an independent public television station.
After serving as PBS’ flagship West Coast station for the past 4 decades, KCET is set to become the largest independent public TV station after failing to reach a new affiliate agreement with PBS, in which the Los Angeles-based station had been seeking fee reduction and greater programming flexibility. KCET will continue to carry the full PBS line-up through December 31, 2010, switching to independent status on Jan. 1, 2011. Here is the statement by Al Jerome, KCET President and CEO:
Public Television writers repped by Writers Guild of America have unanimously ratified a new four-year contract. Deal covers writers who script content for the three major producers of public TV programming, WGBH, WNET and KCET, plus smaller companies that generate content for PBS. Made-for-internet programming is covered for the first time, in this deal, which calls for 2% rate increases in the second year, and 2.75% in the third and fourth years.