KLCS, channel 58, is a non-commercial educational television station located in Los Angeles, California, United States. The station is licensed to the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), and is one of eight television stations in the U.S. that is operated by a local school system. KLCS's studios are located in downtown Los Angeles, adjacent to Downtown Magnets High School, and its transmitter is located atop Mount Wilson.

KLCS is one of three Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) member stations in the Los Angeles television market; the others are KVCR-DT (channel 24) in San Bernardino and KOCE-TV (channel 50) in Huntington Beach (which, in 2011 replaced KCET as the primary PBS station in Los Angeles). KLCS is the fifth most-watched public television station in the country.

History

Pre-KLCS years (1957–1973)

In October 1957, the Los Angeles Unified School District began producing televised instructional programs to be viewed in school by students. By the 1966-67 school year, it was producing over 700 television programs per year for broadcast on various local stations in the Los Angeles area and leasing airtime to broadcast 40 hours of instructional programming Monday through Friday each week. Over the years, the district earned the support of teachers and administrators who were impressed with the effectiveness of the programs on the learning experience in the classroom.

In 1963, the LAUSD began the application process to acquire a license from the Federal Communications Commission and launch its own full-service television station on UHF channel 58. In 1967, the district also applied for and later received state and federal grants to build and equip a broadcast facility for the new station. In the summer of that year, advocates for the LAUSD testified before the FCC on the benefits of an instructional television station for students, staff and the local community. Five years later, on March 3, 1972, the FCC granted the district a license to broadcast on channel 58, and the new station signed on the air on November 5, 1973 as KLCS, the call letters an apparent acronym for "Los Angeles City Schools".[2]

Present operations

The station presently produces more than 700 hours of educational, informational, sports and entertainment programming a year, including live telecourse instruction from the California State University system. It is one of five television stations licensed in the Los Angeles market that continue to utilize their original call signs, alongside KTLA (channel 5), KTTV (channel 11), KCET (channel 28) and KMEX-TV (channel 34).

Since 1984, KLCS has produced Homework Hotline, a weekday afterschool call-in program where students receive homework help from LAUSD teachers and other faculty who appear on the show. In its first year, Homework Hotline was featured in a Time magazine article titled , and has won many Los Angeles Area Emmy Awards over the years, including two in 1986 for Best Instructional Program and Creative Technical Crafts.[3]

Unlike most public television stations, KLCS neither holds an annual pledge drive nor broadcasts its programming in high definition. However, its website lists special premiums and discounts given to subscribers who support the station at various levels, including recognition on-air and in KLCS' monthly viewer magazine.[4] KLCS was slated to begin high definition broadcasting in the autumn of 2014, but still broadcasts in standard definition as of April 2015.

For a period of time, instead of broadcasting a 24-hour program schedule, KLCS signed off at the end of each broadcast day, ceasing programming on some or all of its four subchannels at either 1:00 or 2:00 a.m. and resuming its schedule the next morning at either 5:00 or 6:00 a.m. One subchannel may continue overnight programming, such as for Create programs or regular meetings of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, while the others have individually signed off. In lieu of a test pattern, a overnight-themed title card is aired reminding viewers to tune in the next morning when programming resumes. This made KLCS one of the largest television stations in the United States by market size to still have traditional sign-on and sign-off procedures.[5] KLCS has since resumed a 24-hour schedule. Its second digital subchannel also broadcasts 24 hours a day and is featured as part of DirecTV's digital programming package.

Digital television

Digital channels

The station's digital channel is multiplexed:

ChannelVideoAspectPSIP Short NameProgramming[6]
58.1480i4:3KLCS-1Main KLCS programming / PBS
58.2KLCS-2PBS Kids
58.316:9KLCS-3Create
58.44:3KLCS-4First Nations Experience

*The Annenberg Channel originally aired on channel 58.4 until October 1, 2008, when that service was discontinued.

Analog-to-digital conversion

KLCS shut down its analog signal, over UHF channel 58, at 3:00 p.m. on June 12, 2009, as part of the federally mandated transition from analog to digital television.[7] The station's digital signal remained on its pre-transition UHF channel 41, using PSIP to display KLCS's virtual channel as 58 on digital television receivers, which was among the high band UHF channels (52-69) that were removed from broadcasting use as a result of the transition.

Channel sharing trial

In February 2014, KLCS and KJLA were granted special temporary authority by the FCC to conduct trials in partnership with CTIA and the Association of Public Television Stations, which tested the ability and viability of broadcasting two sets of television services within the same 6 MHz channel band, including varying combinations of high and standard definition feeds. These tests came as the FCC was in the process of preparing for a spectrum auction in 2015; broadcasters will be able to voluntarily sell their television spectrum to the government, and then receive profits from its sale to wireless providers. An FCC spokesperson stated that channel sharing would allow broadcasters to "[take] advantage of the incentive auction’s once-in-a-lifetime financial opportunity", while still maintaining its ability to run over-the-air television programming.[8][9] The experiment, which occurred in March 2014, was deemed successful, although certain scenarios (particularly two HD feeds on both channels) were found to affect video quality on more complex content.[10][11]

On September 10, 2014, KLCS announced that following negotiations with KCETLink—owner of educational independent and former PBS station KCET, it would partake in a channel sharing arrangement and sell its existing spectrum during the incentive auction. Both stations will retain separate licenses.[12][13]