PBS SoCal drops its Orange County news show

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Orange County's Laguna Beach. LA Observed

"The Real Orange" will drop from the PBS SoCal lineup, says the OC Business Journal. Hosts Ed Arnold and Ann Pulice will stop producing new episodes by the end of the calendar year, per the station's marketing manager. The host positions will be eliminated, along with one production job and two part-time positions. The show started in 1997, when the station was still just KOCE, though in recent years was on just two nights a week instead of daily.

"The Real Orange has been an amazing experience and a great asset to our community for several years,” said the PR rep, Stacy Shaffer. “Ed Arnold and Ann Pulice were amazing to work with and we hope to work with them in the future on different projects throughout the station. We understand it’s a challenging transition for some of our colleagues but we do believe it’s the right decision to help move PBS SoCal forward and strengthen the value of the programming that we provide to Southern California."

In Orange County, the news is being greeted, unhappily, as the end of the only OC-focused news show produced by a major TV channel. On a larger scale, the question is what does this say about PBS SoCal's long overdue need to stop being an Orange County-centric entity and become a SoCal station that appeals to viewers in the biggest and most important population center in Southern California: Los Angeles County. There's no news today about any move by PBS SoCal (formerly KOCE) to start serving the larger population it received from the public TV gods when LA's KCET dropped out of the PBS network, making little KOCE the region's flagship.

The Voice of OC website adds this:

Orange County’s 3.1 million residents will soon be losing their only network television news program....

It’s not yet clear what will replace the show nor how much coverage Orange County will get. The spokeswoman said the move comes as part of an effort to “help move PBS SoCal forward and strengthen the value of the programming that we provide to Southern California.”

The cancellation comes two years after the Orange County-based channel, formerly known as KOCE, became the main PBS station for the Greater Los Angeles metropolitan area.

Given its close proximity to Los Angeles’ massive television market, Orange County has long been considered vastly underserved when it comes to local broadcast news....

With the end of "Real Orange," Orange County will have no broadcast TV shows devoted to covering its public affairs other than student broadcasts and programs run by government agencies and cable companies.

Well. There is more coverage of OC on LA's TV news stations than there is coverage of many Los Angeles communities, but of course there are more TV viewers, police chases and high-profile crimes in Orange County than in, say, Canoga Park or Wilmington. Still, the future of PBS SoCal would seem to depend on whether it ever succeeds with viewers — and donors — in Los Angeles.

PBS SoCal does have plans to open a new facility in downtown Los Angeles, says the Voice of OC. But they have been talking about expanding into LA since at least 2011.

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