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Highest bidder finds funds to buy KOCE

October 14, 2004

Deepa Bharath

Public television in Orange County got a rejuvenating shot in the arm

Wednesday when the KOCE-TV Foundation announced it has the money

required to buy KOCE-TV from the Coast Community College District.

The news lays to rest speculation about the future of the county's

only public broadcast station and puts an end to existing and

prospective legal battles, said Bob Brown, chairman of the KOCE-TV

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Foundation.

"It's been a long haul for us," he said. "We've had to get over

many hurdles, and getting the funds has been the toughest hurdle. But

now we can see the end in sight in terms of acquisition."

Coast Community College District in October 2003 chose the KOCE-TV

Foundation as the highest responsible bidder for the station. The

foundation was the only bidder promising to keep the station's PBS

format as opposed to others, which were going to switch to

predominantly religious programming.

Christian broadcaster Daystar Television Network contested the

district's decision in Orange County Superior Court. A judge rejected

the network's claim that its $25.1 million cash bid had a higher

value than the foundation's purchase price of $28 million -- most of

that financed on a long-term note.

Daystar appealed the ruling and asked the FCC to stop the license

transfer, further stalling the process. But the FCC found the

foundation is legally qualified to hold the license, and its

ownership will further the public interest.

Wednesday's announcement also puts an end to the legal issues

surrounding the sale, said Ardelle St. George, attorney for the

foundation.

"It puts to rest any question about the foundation's financial

capability," she said. "We've already won in terms of Daystar's

filing. This puts the final capstone on the legal situation."

However, Daystar attorney Richard Sherman said the announcement is

by no means an end to the legal battle, because an appeal from

Daystar is still pending in court.

"If the appellate court overturns the trial court's decision, it

will undo this whole deal," he said.

Such a decision could either restart the bidding process or make

Daystar the highest bidder to be handed the deal, Sherman said.

"This is not over," he said.

But foundation officials were jubilant on Wednesday and very much

considered the sale a done deal.

The money that the foundation has secured -- through cash

donations and pledges from fewer than 75 donors -- is sufficient to

fund the $10 million needed for the actual purchase of the station,

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