Independent public television station KCET (Channel 28) entered into a partnership with public educational station KLCS (Channel 41) to share a single over-the-air broadcast channel, the stations announced Wednesday.
The partnership will allow the Burbank station and KLCS, a Public Broadcasting System affiliate owned by the Los Angeles Unified School District, to auction off unneeded bandwidth as part of the Federal Communications Commission spectrum-incentive auction. The station would split the proceeds from the auction.
Both KCET and KLCS, headquartered downtown, will continue to operate under separate, non-commercial licenses. The channel under which the stations would operate has not been chosen, a KCET spokeswoman said.
The decision to share the channel follows an initiative by the FCC to auction off unused television spectrum to wireless providers, as wireless communication continues to rapidly expand. However, the National Association of Broadcasters has filed a lawsuit to challenge the auction, so there is a possibility it may not immediately proceed.
KCET is a nonprofit, viewer-supported station facing financial difficulties and lower viewership following its decision to become independent from PBS in 2010 over dues it owed the system.
It moved to Burbank from Los Angeles in 2011 and a year later merged with Link Media, a production company with its own cable channel based in San Francisco. KCETLink is its nonprofit ownership entity.
“We feel the spectrum auction is a great opportunity to potentially gain significant resources that we can reinvest into programs and activities we provide to the community in support of our mission,” said KCETLink Chief Executive Al Jerome in a statement.
The station did not specify the expected proceeds from the auction.
KLCS is a UHF station and is also available on cable with a reach of 16 million households. It provides PBS programming and original educational instruction content aimed at LAUSD students.