The merger last fall of Los Angeles public television station KCET with Link Media became more real on Friday. The station, now called KCETLink, said it would eliminate the equivalent of 22 full-time positions. That is about a fifth of the staff at the Burbank headquarters, and most are said by by sources to be layoffs. This will only increase the speculation about the future of "SoCal Connected," the award-winning news show that does not have a commitment to continue next season.
CEO Al Jerome, who oversaw the station's abandonment of PBS to become independent, appears to remain in charge. His is the only executive name in the press release.
KCETLink, the newly formed national independent public media organization, announced today it has reorganized the company to maximize operational and financial efficiencies following its merger, and align itself with digital innovation in the rapidly changing media landscape.
KCET and Bay area-based Link Media merged four months ago, and since then, KCETLink management has examined every aspect of the consolidated organization and reconfigured the workforce for sustainable growth and optimal financial health. As a result, 22 full time positions will be eliminated.
In addition, while continuing to embrace traditional television, KCETLink will focus on “transmedia” programming opportunities that provide audiences access to content on web and mobile devices, and also develop new mobile device apps and digital media tools.
“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.”
As a leading public media organization, KCETLink will continue to offer enlightening, thought-provoking content about issues in local communities in Southern California and nationally while providing a cultural link to a world that’s more connected than ever before.
Already, KCETLink is at various stages with several innovative projects that align with this new digital media trajectory. KCET’s critically acclaimed digital first series, "Artbound," "Ballot Brief" and "Departures" ––along with several new productions currently in development––will continue to evolve and grow under this new directive.
Additional transmedia projects in the pipeline include the recently released Link TV World News mobile app; "Stand Up Planet!" a multi-platform comedy/reality series focused on issues of global development which is currently in production in India and South Africa; as well as newly acquired films "Shadows of Liberty" and "The Power of Two” that are both heavily supported by digital engagement and available on multiple screens.