Link TV and KCET Merge: A Letter From Link TV's President and CEO

October, 2012

 

Dear Friends of Link:
Paul Mason


I am very pleased to share some exciting news. After 12 years as a leader in independent media, Link Media is merging with KCET, the nation's largest independent television station in Southern California to form KCETLink, a single non-profit organization. Together, the new KCETLink will deliver high quality, culturally diverse programs to more people than ever before.

Based in Burbank, CA with offices in San Francisco and New York, the new KCETLink will reach 33 million American homes through DISH Network and DIRECTV as well as 5.6 million cable TV households in Southern California. We will build upon both companies' strong traditions of entertaining and informing audiences via television, online and coming this month, new apps for the iPad and Google TV.

Don't worry -- Link TV isn't moving -- you'll still find us at Channel 375 on DIRECTV and Channel 9410 on DISH Network broadcasting powerful global programs such as Borgen, which the New York Times just called "one of the best shows on American television." Plus, starting January 1, 2013 we'll also be available to cable viewers in the 11 Los Angeles counties on one of KCET's multicast channels. And audiences tuning in to KCET's main channel will be able to watch our round up of Asia's top news, trends and social media, LinkAsia, in HD.


We see tremendous synergy between Link and KCET. For 48 years KCET has been a powerhouse of local and national productions. It currently creates the Emmy®, duPont-Columbia and Peabody Award-winning SoCal Connected, a hard-hitting prime-time television news program that examines the issues and people of Southern California. They broadcast fan-favorite British dramas including Doc Martin and Foyle's War, as well as BBC World News. With KCET's new state-of-the-art production facilities in Burbank and its talented pool of LA-based producers, combined with Link Media's cutting edge digital tools and global content, we see KCETLink poised to create new opportunities and lead independent public media into the heart of the 21st century.

This is not just a merger of two organizations, but an enormous opportunity to re-invent the value and purpose of 'independent media.' We can reshape public media into a vitally important source of cultural ideas, global connectivity and diverse perspectives.

You can help shape this vision. Watch for new developments and engage with us in creating a smarter, more impactful independent public media network. If you have questions about the merger, our staff is on hand to answer them at (415) 248-3950 Ext. 105. Or you can leave your feedback and questions here.

Best regards,

 

 

Paul Mason signature

 


Paul S. Mason
President and CEO

 


More on the announcement:

 

"Public Media Merger: KCET and Link Media Combine Forces," KCET, October 17 2012

"KCET announces merger with satellite network Link TV," Los Angeles Times, October 17, 2012

 


 

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Can you give me more details of the merger?
Yes, we are excited to share that Link TV is merging with KCET, the nation’s largest independent television station based in Southern California to form “KCETLink,” a single non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization.  We will be one organization with two distinct brands:  KCET and Link TV will continue to provide quality programming on separate channels.

 

The company will be based in Burbank with offices in San Francisco and New York.  United by a shared mission to bring powerful stories and media to diverse audiences, KCETLink will provide enlightening, thought provoking, global content across multiple platforms.

 

KCET has state of the art production facilities and proven programming success in the nation’s second largest market in Los Angeles reaching more than 5.6 million homes. KCET has a long history of producing award-winning locally focused quality news and cultural programming.

 

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. We will reach millions more around the world via digital platforms.

We imagine some great synergies:  by marrying KCET’s original content and state of the art production capabilities with Link Media’s cutting edge digital tools, KCETLink will help drive innovation in the public media industry with new opportunities for growth.

Does this mean you’re going out of business?
Not at all.  This provides Link with a unique opportunity to expand our footprint into Los Angeles, the second largest broadcast market in the nation.  5.6 million additional homes will have access to Link TV through one of KCET’s multicast channels on cable and over-the-air systems. The deal also provides us with new state of the art broadcast facilities and a stronger infrastructure while significantly reducing our operating costs.

With the merger, we see many synergies that will allow us to run a smarter, further-reaching and more efficient media company and at the same time, build capacity.

Will you be producing any new shows?
We’re excited about the possibilities of what we can produce together that leverages the skills and talent of both organizations.  Ultimately, we feel we have an interesting intersection of great content that can be developed for a wide public television audience.  Right now, it’s too early to announce concrete plans.

Also, KCET’s new state-of-the-art production facilities in Burbank provide an ideal base from which we will create a one-stop shop for producers in the creative community on the West Coast to produce and distribute top quality content locally, nationally and across multiple media platforms.

How will the merger affect me?
Link TV programming will continue to be aired on DISH Network and DIRECTV with few changes to our current schedule or line up.  We will continue to bring you Link’s unique brand of programming---global news, documentaries, and cultural programming.  Rest assured, that’s not going away.  You will still be able to watch your favorite programs on Link TV, including Mosaic, Democracy Now, LinkAsia, Earth Focus, Borgen and Arab Labor.  We will also continue to bring you cutting edge documentaries such as Heist: Who Stole the American Dream? and The Koch Brothers as well as speeches from luminaries such as George Lakoff and Richard Wolff.  If you live in Southern California, beginning January 1, 2013, you will also be able to access Link TV on one of KCET’s multicast cable channels.

One of the first new offerings of the joint KCETLink will be a transmedia project—offering curated Global News content on mobile devices and Google TV. That launches in late October.

In the next 6 months, we will be evaluating how some of KCET’s unique offerings may be a good fit for Link TV viewers as well.

 

Will you still be Link TV?
Please rest assured that the merger will in no way impact on the Link TV brand. Link TV will continue to broadcast our unique blend of rich, culturally focused programs that inspire, inform and engage our audiences. Link TV programming will continue to be available on DIRECTV Ch. 375 and DISH Network Ch. 9410. 

Senior management from Link will play a significant role in the new KCET Link. Paul Mason, Link’s President and CEO, will assume the position of Chief Strategy Officer for KCETLink and will be at the forefront of Link related management decisions. The KCET Link Board of Directors will be composed of board members from both KCET and Link. This will ensure the continuance of Link’s unique blend of programming and our commitment to our viewers to maintain the Link brand.
 
Will we see immediate changes?
You can expect a “ramp up” period, as we get to understand the capability of the combined organization, but we certainly anticipate and welcome a time when KCETLink will produce and distribute original programming on multiple platforms. We intend to combine digital tools and technological innovation to develop new formats that leverage social media and digital technology to continue to attract new and younger audiences.
 
What programming does KCET offer?
KCET airs its own locally produced and acquired programs that explore the people, places and topics that are relevant to Southern California.  Some viewer- favorites include Doc Martin, Foyle’s War, Primeval, Open Call, and Huell Howser.  KCET also broadcasts BBC World News.  It is a powerhouse of local, high quality news with its nightly program “So-Cal Connected.”  Online, KCET produces some amazing arts and cultural content, including Artbound and Departures, featuring the best of the 11 Los Angeles counties.
 

Does this mean that Link TV will now take corporate or government funding? 

To this point we have not received funding from the government. We have had the backing of a few companies that have specifically emphasized social responsibility. Going forward, we will continue to bring our viewers and users the sort of diverse, global and progressive content that has distinguished Link Media in a crowded marketplace. To maintain our ability to serve our audience with great content from around the world, we will continue to evaluate funding opportunities on a case by case basis.

 

Like most of public broadcasting, our merger partner, KCET, has received corporate sponsorship for some programming. KCET has a long history of maintaining a firewall between its sales and editorial teams, and plans to continue this practice. We will do the same.

 

Will there be advertising during Link programs? 
No. KCETLink and the Link TV brand remain non-profit and non-commercial.

Will any of KCET’s programs be aired on Link TV?
We hope so. Over the next six months we’ll be evaluating their line up looking for content that would enhance the Link TV brand.

Will Link continue to pledge on air? 
Yes, although we anticipate less on-air fundraising drives.  KCETLink will continue to look to major foundations, donors and individual supporters to power this independent media company.

Will my donations still be tax deductible? 
Yes.

Why should I continue to support you?
Link TV remains passionate about the importance of independent media and we will not stray from our mission to inspire, inform and engage our audiences. We will continue to cover stories and points of view that you will not find on any of the major news channels. The new KCETLink will not only be among the largest independent public networks in the nation, but it also ushers in a fundamental shift in U.S. public media in the digital age.  Link TV’s audience is much younger (60% are 18-34) than the typical PBS audience. We hope to entice that younger demographic to a new form of public media.  We are poised to serve as a public media innovation laboratory experimenting with new revenue models for independent, sophisticated programming that appeals to a digital savvy audience.

We will also continue to offer your favorite programs like Democracy Now!, LinkAsia, Earth Focus, and the award winning Borgen. And we will continue to scour the globe to bring you the best, most entertaining, provocative global drama and non-fiction programming as well as create new original compelling content. With this merger, KCETLink hopes to bring you even more powerful media.

How have your funders reacted?
Since the two organizations are so synergistic in terms of mission and culture, and we expect that donations from our supporters will have even greater impact than before. We are confident that our supporters will recognize the merger as an opportunity to continue to grow and expand.

Reaction from many of our major funders has been positive so far—with donations already coming in from a half dozen of our biggest donors.