The perfect local television station in the Internet era?

Oct 11, 2010

I have been watching the public dance about KCET and PBS squaring off about tithing rates for programming.  This tension challenges some of KCET’s biggest assets: goodwill and cross-promoted programming brands.  KCET’s potential future as an independent station changes everything: cost structure, programming, audience, donor support, etc.  This transition also can allow it, however, to start fresh.

If you were going to start anew with a local television station in this current digital era, what would you build?

  • Real online/offline community engagement?
  • Partnerships with local colleges for a marvelous science show?
  • Partnerships with local arts organizations to cover Los Angeles arts, including in-depth bios and community engagements?
  • Partnerships with local newspapers for marvelous public affairs shows?
  • Engaging with the donor community more actively participate with the brand?
  • Finding the best of other cities’ local content?
  • Picking up good next-level down kids’ branded content?
  • Breaking away from the over 65 and under 5 crowd and program for another audience?

What is the face of the new brand?  How would you quickly have to change your organization’s strengths?  How do you build new local brands and personalities?  How do you syndicate this production, or do you and to whom?

If you aren’t Sesame Street, McNeil Lehrer News Hour, Frontline, what are you?

Their website’s “Ask Al” discussion with the CEO (http://www.kcet.org/about/ask-al/ask-al-kcet-goes-independent.html) is filled with responses that are very negative with a few hurrays that someone finally might program for the real Southern California community.  Perhaps the opportunity here is to break KCET away from this narrow set of expectations and very narrow demographic to build the next generation public television station for the local community?

The challenge is . . . what will that be?  And how will the station make the short- and long- term organizational changes to run it, market it, and thrive?

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