The L.A. Times has an interesting piece (10/22/10) about KCET, the local PBS affiliate that is bolting from PBS because it says it can't afford to pay the fees PBS wants to charge them. What happened is that KCET, for a little while at least, was very good at raising corporate money; the PBS fee formula required them to pay more as a result, even though that corporate underwriting was supposed to be used for producing programming.
Who did the money come from? Oil giant BP.So much money that, as the Times noted, "in gratitude KCET bosses renamed their historic Sunset Boulevard soundstage BP Studios." But that funding dried up (BP has other, bigger problems to deal with), and the station is stuck with a rather unfortunate association with a reviled multinational corporation:
Meanwhile, the BP Studios sign became an embarrassment on the KCET lot. "Several of our TV show guests began to ask about that sign and it was becoming a real problem for us from a PR standpoint," said Neal Kendall, executive producer of Tavis Smiley, the talkshow taped on the KCET lot that airs on 200 PBS stations nationwide.
Earlier this year, KCET officials discreetly covered up the sign. Station management says the move is only temporary.