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Research

County Residents Decisively Wish to Keep KOCE-TV Public

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September 23, 2003

Latest Findings, CSUF – OCBC Quarterly Survey

County Residents Decisively Wish to Keep KOCE-TV Public
82% favor taking $10 million rather than $25 million, if the higher sale price means converting to Christian religious programming.

Orange County Residents Say Keep KOCE as a PBS Affiliate
82% favor keeping KOCE a public outlet. Some 82% of Orange County residents favor the sale of KOCE to an entity that would keep the television station a Public Broadcasting System affiliate – even if that means selling for $10 million rather than $25 million – according to the latest survey by Cal State Fullerton’s Center for Public Policy in partnership with the Orange County Business Council.

Of the 506 Orange County residents reached in a telephone survey between Aug. 26 and Sept. 10, 2003, 18% said they would prefer that Coast Community College District trustees sell for a higher price, $25 million, and acquiesce in plans that the station become a Christian religious broadcaster.

After introducing the topic and assaying a variety of dimensions [discussed below], the survey asked this question.
There are two possible buyers for KOCE Channel 50. One buyer offers $25 million, and the station would then offer Christian religious programs. The other buyer offers 10 million dollars, and the station would continue PBS network and local programs. Which would you prefer?


Republican – Democrat differences. The survey found a difference between residents who identified as Democrats and those who told interviewers that they are Republicans. Democrats favored retaining the station’s public programming with a smaller $10 million dollar sale by a 93% to 7% margin. Republicans had the same preference, but by a lower margin of 70% to 30%.

Orange County residents watch KOCE at least “sometimes,” but do not watch Christian religious broadcasting nearly as frequently. The survey began by asking respondents the extent to which they watched KOCE, in these words.
As you may know, KOCE is a public television station in Orange County. It broadcasts on channel 50, and on cable systems using other channel numbers. Would you say you watch PBS and local programs on KOCE never, rarely, sometimes, or often?

Results are displayed in Table One. As will be seen, nearly two-thirds reported that they watched KOCE either žoftenÓ or žsometimes,Ó with only 15% saying that they žneverÓ watched KOCE.

Table One
How Often Respondents Watch KOCE-TV
Often
29%
Sometimes
37%
Rarely
20%
Never
15%
Total:
101%*
 
* Rounding error

For purposes of contrast and comparison, and because Christian religious broadcasting becomes part of the public policy discussion (as we review below), we also asked about respondents’ interest in that form of TV programming. We asked this question:

What about Christian religious programs on TV? Would you say you watch Christian religious programs on TV never, rarely, sometimes, or often?

Responses to this question are shown in Table Two. As will be seen, only about one-fifth of the residents of Orange County reached in this survey watch Christian religious programs on TV either žoftenÓ or žsometimes,Ó with another fifth or so reporting that they žrarelyÓ watch such programs.

Table Two
How Often Respondents Watch
Christian Religious Programs on TV
Often
7%
Sometimes
13%
Rarely
18%
Never
62%
Total:
100%


“This is a very sizeable difference,” noted Keith Boyum, Center for Public Policy director at Cal State Fullerton. “By 66% to 20% [“often” + “sometimes”], many more Orange County residents watch KOCE than watch Christian religious programming. More than triple the number report watching KOCE, compared to Christian religious programs.”

Christian program-watchers favor keeping KOCE public. We reviewed opinions about the sale of KOCE by whether respondents watched Christian programming or not. In specific, we compared those who said they watched Christian programming either “sometimes” or “often” to those who reported that they watched Christian programming either “rarely” or “never.” Results are displayed in Table Three. As will be seen, the group that does not tune in to Christian religious programs overwhelmingly prefers taking the smaller price, but keeping the public television content. In addition, the group that does watch Christian programs also broke in favor of keeping KOCE a public television station.

Table Three
Preference for Sale of KOCE by Extent to Which Respondents Watch Christian Religious Programs
  Extent to Which Respondents Watch
Christian Religious Programs
Preference for the Sale of KOCE “Never” or “Rarely” “Sometimes” or “Often”
Sell at $10 million and retain public program-ming as at present
89%
53%
Sell at $25 million and convert to Christian programs
11%
47%

Pros and cons involved in the sale. Before they were asked the ultimate question concerning which terms of sale they preferred, respondents were offered a series of statements intended to capture some of the issues that are involved in a proposed sale. The order of the statements was rotated, meaning that each statement had an equal chance of being asked first in order, second in order, etc.

Our question, and statements, were worded as follows:

Now I want to read you some statements about a proposed sale of KOCE Channel 50. For each, please tell me whether the information makes you much less, a little less, a little more, or much more likely to support the proposed sale.

a. Selling the station will earn cash that the community college district can use for other educational needs.
b. Because of state and local budget shortfalls, income from the sale will be especially welcome at this time.
c. One proposed buyer would stop offering public television and local Orange County programs, and would offer mostly Christian religious programs instead.
d. One proposed buyer would continue to offer public television and local Orange County programs, approximately the same as today.
e. One proposed buyer offers the highest price, 25 million dollars, to the community college district.
f. One proposed buyer offers a lower price, 10 million dollars, to the community college district.

Orange County residents reached in the survey responded as shown in Table Four.

Continuing to offer public television and local Orange County programs won the most support ā with 81% in Table Four either žmuch more likelyÓ or ža little more likelyÓ to support the sale under that condition. In second place was using the cash for educational needs, with 72% responding that they would be either žmuch more likelyÓ or ža little more likelyÓ to support the sale under that condition.

In contrast, 83% said they would be either “much less likely” or “a little less likely” to support the sale if programming went from public broadcasting to Christian religious broadcasting. Some 54% reported that they would react poorly to selling for the lower price.

“Orange County residents reached in our survey appear to react more to the content of the programming than to the amount of the sale price,” noted Dr. Phillip Gianos, Cal state Fullerton professor of political science. “Content trumps price.”

Noted Keith Boyum: “Of course, our respondents are not responsible for balancing the Coast Community College District budget.”

Table Four
How Each Statement Affects Respondent’s Likelihood of Supporting Proposed Sale of KOCE*
How each statement affects
respondent’s likely support
for the sale of KOCE
Much More
Likely
A Little More Likely
A Little Less Likely
Much
Less Likely
One proposed buyer would continue to offer public television and local Orange County programs, approximately the same as today.
44%
37%
10%
9%
Selling the station will earn cash that the community college district can use for other educational needs.
34%
38%
16%
12%
One proposed buyer offers the highest price, $25 million, to the community college district.
30%
36%
17%
18%
Because of state and local budget shortfalls, income from the sale will be especially welcome at this time.
27%
37%
19%
17%
One proposed buyer offers a lower price, $10 million, to the community college district.
17%
29%
28%
26%
One proposed buyer would stop offering public television and local Orange County programs, and would offer mostly Christian religious programs instead.
7%
11%
21%
62%
 
*Rounding errors may make some totals equal other-than 100%


Stan Oftelie
, president and CEO of the Orange County Business Council, commented:
“In the four-year history of the CSUF-OCBC surveys, this is the most emphatic — and decisive — expression of public will we've seen. Orange County wants KOCE to remain an Orange County public television station.
“It is a particularly striking finding because the support for KOCE is so lopsided,” continued Oftelie, even when the respondents are confronted with the critical question of costs.”

Previous results of CSUF/OCBC quarterly surveys are conveniently accessible on the OCBC web site. See: http://www.ocbc.org/resourcesf.htm

These data result from a Random Digit Dialed (RDD) survey of 506 households in Orange County. The survey was administered by telephone between Aug. 26 and Sept. 10, 2003, by the California State University, Fullerton Social Science Research Center (SSRC) for the university’s Center for Public Policy. The SSRC director is Gregory Robinson.

The population of inference is heads of household or their spouses or domestic partners, 18 years of age or older, residing in households with telephones in Orange County. Survey administration required between four and 37 minutes, with an average of 14 minutes and two seconds.

Computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI) software was utilized, supporting highly accurate call management. For example, up to 21 call-back attempts were made in some cases to obtain completed interviews. Telephone interviews were generally conducted Monday through Thursday from 4 p.m. until 9 p.m., and on Saturdays and Sundays from 2 - 8 p.m.. Interviews typically ran about 11 minutes. All interviews were conducted in English.

The response rate for this telephone survey is 67.66%, calculated as completed interviews as a proportion of eligible respondents. Calculated conservatively, the margin of error for a random sample of this size is plus or minus 4.45%. The margin of error will be larger when sub-groups of the sample are analyzed.


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