KOCE-TV, virtual channel 50 (UHF digital channel 48), is the primary PBS member television station serving Los Angeles, California, United States that is licensed to Huntington Beach. The station is owned by the KOCE-TV Foundation. KOCE's studios are located at the South Coast Corporate Center (south of the San Diego Freeway) in Costa Mesa, and its transmitter is located at the Southern California tower farm atop Mount Wilson.
KOCE is one of three PBS member stations serving Greater Los Angeles, the others being KVCR-DT (virtual channel 24, digital channel 26), which mainly serves the Inland Empire and the LA Unified School District-run KLCS (virtual channel 58, digital channel 41). A fourth public television station serving the area, KCET (channel 28), ended its 40-year membership with PBS in 2010. KCET's exit from the network makes KOCE the succeeding flagship PBS network in Los Angeles.
The station first signed on the air on November 20, 1972 as the first television station licensed to Orange County, initially airing four hours of programming per day. It broadcast its first telecourse in 1973. It was originally owned by the Coast Community College District. The station was originally based from studios located at Golden West College in Huntington Beach. For most of its history, KOCE was a "beta" or secondary PBS station, airing only 25 percent of the national PBS schedule.
KOCE vs. Daystar
In 2002, the Coast Community College District offered KOCE for sale in order to raise revenue for other programs. A bidding war ensued between the Daystar Television Network and members of the community who wanted to continue membership with PBS. In 2004, the station was sold to the KOCE-TV Foundation, an organization made up of civic and business leaders who wanted to keep KOCE as an educational station, for $25.5 million, reduced from an initial bid of $32 million (with $8 million paid up front and the rest paid in 25 equal installments without interest beginning in 2009). The foundation outbid Daystar by $500,000, the religious broadcaster placed a bid of $25 million, which it intended to compensate in an all-cash payment.
Daystar sued in state court, stating that under the terms of the auction, its all-cash bid should have been accepted. A lower court ruled in favor of the college district and the foundation; but on June 23, 2005, the California Court of Appeals ruled that the sale of KOCE was illegal, since the offer was modified after the end of bidding and because the value of the bid was not expressed in net present value terms. Both sides appealed this decision. On November 22, 2005, a state appeals panel reheard arguments in the case following a petition from KOCE, the KOCE Foundation, the Coast Community College District and Daystar. On May 25, 2006, the appeals court reaffirmed its decision, again ruling the sale illegal.
At the same time, Daystar also filed a federal lawsuit, alleging religious discrimination, civil rights violations and racketeering. On May 1, 2006, the District Court dismissed the racketeering claim, but not the civil rights portion of the lawsuit.
In June 2006, a state assembly bill that had previously been approved was changed to allow the Coast Community College District to sell KOCE below fair market value in order to keep it a PBS station. The new bill was passed by the assembly, but Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed it citing concerns about serving the public interest in the sale of public property and the unresolved legal challenges to the type of sale that the bill would have authorized.
In June 2007, an agreement was reached in which the KOCE-TV Foundation would keep the station, provided that Daystar would be allowed to broadcast over one of KOCE's digital subchannels. As a result, KOCE-DT3 is reserved to broadcast Daystar's national schedule without any local deviation.
Becoming Los Angeles' primary PBS station
KOCE became the Los Angeles market's primary PBS station on January 1, 2011, when the area's longtime original primary member station of the network, KCET (channel 28), ended its association with PBS after 40 years due to an increase in costs to carry PBS programming – leading to its switch to an independent public television station.
After KCET left PBS, KOCE entered into a broadcast agreement with KLCS and KVCR to form "PBS SoCal" effective January 1, 2011. The PBS programming originally carried on KCET is now shared between the three stations. As a consequence, on December 31, 2010 KOCE expanded its cable coverage into Santa Barbara, and later expanded to Palm Springs. Both San Luis Obispo and Santa Maria (who were previously served by KCET), however, were not included in the cable coverage, as those communities are now served by San Francisco PBS member KQED via cable (Palm Springs is also served by KVCR-DT, while Bakersfield, which was also served by KCET, is now served via cable and over-the-air through Fresno PBS member KVPT).
In the spring of 2011, KOCE moved its administrative offices to a modern facility in Costa Mesa.
KOCE was available in the Palm Springs area and the Coachella Valley on cable and on over-air since the late 1990s, formerly on K55FI and later K35LA now a KCET translator since 2011, when KOCE became the major PBS station for Southern California.
The station's digital channel is multiplexed:
|Channel||Video||Aspect||PSIP Short Name||Programming|
|50.1||1080i||16:9||PBS-HD||Main KOCE-TV programming / PBS|
|50.2||480i||PBSplus||PBS SoCal Plus|
|50.4||16:9||PBSwrld||PBS SoCal World|
|50.5||480i||4.3||PbsKids||PBS Kids (coming soon)|
On January 1, 2011, PBS World moved from KCET-DT4 to KOCE-DT4.
KOCE-TV shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 50, at 11:30 p.m. on June 12, 2009, as part of the federally mandated transition from analog to digital television. The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 48, using PSIP to display KOCE-TV's virtual channel as 50 on digital television receivers.
In addition to PBS programs, KOCE also features programming focused on the communities of Orange County, such as the nightly newscast, Real Orange. It also broadcasts several college telecourses by the Coast Community College District, which was the station's original owner.
KOCE produces and broadcasts the only Orange County-focused nightly newscast in the Los Angeles market, Real Orange, with a concentration on human interest and public service stories. The program is co-anchored by former longtime KTLA (channel 5) news/sports anchor Ed Arnold, and Ann Pulice. KOCE partners with the Orange County Register for newsgathering resources for the station's newscasts, the newspaper also serves as a sponsor for the program.
KOCE also operates a Weather Center stationed in La Habra Heights, located about 20 miles north of the KOCE's Huntington Beach studios. It is also located in the same area as the KOCE's transmitter site for the Orange County area. This weather station, which only consists of a weather camera, is shown live during the weather segments of Real Orange on Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings. Weather radar imagery and other forecast data are gathered from other weather sources (such as the National Weather Service), as KOCE does not employ its own weather radar.
- The voice heard in KOCE's station identification spots is that of popular voice-over artist Camille Dixon.
- KOCE also partners with Chapman University in Orange, California to provide programming for the OC Channel subchannel.