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KCET sells Sunset Boulevard studio to Church of Scientology

Financially strapped KCET-TV has sold its landmark Sunset Boulevard studio to the Church of Scientology for an undisclosed price, the station said Monday.

KCET will remain at 4401 W. Sunset Blvd. for as much as a year while searching for a new location. The station is in discussions with several production facilities, according to a statement by its president, Al Jerome.

“We are now implementing Phase 2 of our transformation from a PBS affiliate to an independent public media center for the 21st century,” Jerome said in a statement. “New facilities and equipment will allow us to augment the quality, award-winning content that our fans love.”

The Los Angeles television station, which is struggling to rebuild viewership after its recent split from PBS, plans to move its operations to a smaller location, real estate brokers said last month.

Terms of the deal were unavailable, but the 4.5-acre property at 4401 W. Sunset Blvd. has an assessed value of $14.1 million, according to county records.

KCET recently embarked on perhaps the most perilous journey in its 45-year history. In January, the station dropped PBS and became the nation's largest independent public broadcasting station. KCET officials had tangled for months with network officials over dues, saying the $7 million the station had to pay annually represented more than its fair share.

Dropping the PBS brand meant getting rid of the dues burden but also losing signature shows such as “Sesame Street,” “PBS NewsHour” and “Charlie Rose.”

The lot, which has served as a studio since 1912, used to be the home of Monogram Pictures and Allied Artists. Scenes for dozens of notable films were shot there over the years, including “El Cid” with Charlton Heston, John Ford's “Hurricane” and the Charlie Chan mysteries.

The Los Angeles-based Church of Scientology was incorporated in 1954 and owns dozens of properties in Los Angeles County, including the former Cedars of Lebanon Hospital at Sunset Boulevard and L. Ron Hubbard Way.

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-- Roger Vincent

 
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