California-based public TV station KCET, which broke from PBS affiliation to go independent at the start of the year, has struck a US$50 million partnership deal with Eyetronics Media and Studios to produce and acquire series that are “thematically distinctive to Southern California.”
Eyetronics will fund the venture, providing up to $50 million to cover original productions, acquisitions and distribution during an initial partnership term of five years.
KCET will produce and broadcast these series, which Eyetronics will distribute domestically and internationally. KCET will have public TV distribution rights domestically and in Canada.
The first five series lined up under the partnership are slated to be non-fiction projects, with Eyetronics CEO Dominique Bigle telling TVWeek the aim was to promote art, entertainment and popular culture “formatted in a combination of Bravo meets Vanity Fair meets ARTE.”
The new shows will aim to celebrate “the vibrancy of Southern California’s people, places, and culture, as well as its history,” according to the network, with the initial slate including programs that explore “everything from the glitz of Hollywood entertainment and multi-cultural eateries to groundbreaking academic research and technological innovation.”
In a statement, KCET’s president and CEO Al Jerome said, “Southern California is a special market, and it is our home. Over the years, we have spoken to generations of Angelenos with our programming.
“We are eager to collaborate with Dominique and leverage his savvy for international distribution to deliver more exceptional shows and original documentaries with local [and] global appeal.”
The news comes after KCET announced last October it would be breaking from PBS, becoming the largest independent public TV station in the United States from January 1. The decision came after the two parties failed to reach an agreement on fees and programming flexibility.
At the time, Jerome said, “After four decades as the west coast flagship PBS station, this is not a decision we made lightly. We have been in discussions with PBS for over three years about the need to address challenges that are unique to our market as well as our station.”