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KCET Jubilant Over Increase in Budget, Viewer Response

June 30, 1989|JUDITH MICHAELSON | Times Staff Writer

On a steadily bullish fiscal track, KCET Channel 28 says that its budget for the fiscal year that begins Saturday will be $44.4 million--a 15% increase over the current year.

"I'm just really so up," William H. Kobin, the Los Angeles public-television station's president and chief executive officer, said this week.

Adding to his list of happy statistics, in the midst of KCET's 25th anniversary celebrations, are a 6% increase in viewership and a 5% increase in subscribers over the previous year.

Those numbers, Kobin said, are even more dramatic when measured over the last five years. In fiscal 1984, an average of 1.5 million households watched KCET for at least 15 minutes a week; today the figure stands at 2.6 million households. In 1984, there were 200,000 financial contributors; today there are 325,000.

The consistent improvement in the station's financial picture follows a dramatic turnaround in 1986, when Kobin, then three years on the job, was able to help pull the station into the black, where it has been ever since. KCET had been in severe debt for several years.

According to Barbara Goen, vice president for public information, the breakdown of the new budget is: 56% for production and broadcasting; 17% for fund raising and marketing; 12% administrative; 8% building facility support and 7% promotion and advertising.

At the annual board meeting last week, where the new budget was approved, Kobin reported that more than half of the area's households watch KCET every week and more than 70% watch the station every month.

The movie "Stand and Deliver," a PBS "American Playhouse" production, turned out to be KCET's "most-watched program of the year," said Kobin. The movie registered the second-highest rating in the station's history, behind a "National Geographic" special on tigers.

"Stand and Deliver" has particular relevance to the station's leadership, which is trying to increase ethnic viewers and subscribers.

"It's interesting to note," Kobin told the board, that "Stand and Deliver," which aired with a Spanish simulcast on radio, "produced 3,000 pledges for $162,000, with over a third of the pledges coming from people with Hispanic surnames."

The $44.4 million projected in the coming fiscal year includes an estimated $1.4 of capital expenditures to purchase equipment, Kobin said.

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