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College district wants KOCE back

Coast Community College District takes legal action to regain ownership of public TV station's license.

May 22, 2007|By Michael Miller

The Coast Community College District, which has been bogged down in a legal dispute since selling KOCE-TV to its own foundation in 2004, has asked a state court to uphold a prior decision that would return the public station to the district.

In a status report that was expected to be filed with Orange County Superior Court on Monday, attorney Milford Dahl wrote that the college district was "weary" of the time and money spent on the KOCE case and sought to regain ownership of the station's license. An appellate judge ruled last May that the sale to the foundation was invalid, and the state Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal in August.

Now, the district is seeking to end the matter by following the appellate court's order and voiding the sale. Attorneys for the district, the foundation and the Daystar Television Network — which claimed rightful ownership of KOCE after it made a higher cash bid than the foundation — are scheduled to meet in Orange County Superior Court on Friday.

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"There's no other appeal to be taken," said Walt Howald, a trustee for the college district. "The only thing we can do is to ask that in accordance with the appellate court, the license be returned."

The district put KOCE up for sale in 2003 to raise academic funds and ended up selling it to the foundation, which bid $8 million in cash and $24 million in credit. Shortly before the sale was finished, Daystar sued the district, saying its $25.1-million cash bid made it the rightful winner. Orange County Appellate Judge David Sills ordered the KOCE sale voided in May 2006, and the state Supreme Court upheld his ruling in August.

The parties have been in negotiations ever since to reach a settlement. Dahl said the foundation still wanted to retain ownership of the station, but foundation attorney Ardelle St. George could not be reached Monday afternoon for comment. Attorneys for Daystar did not return calls.

If the district retains ownership of KOCE, it may choose to keep it indefinitely or put it up for sale again. The district has largely spent the $8-million down payment from the foundation, but even still, Dahl said, reversing the sale would be preferable to continuing the struggle in court.

"As long as this is up in the air, all they're doing is incurring fees and having all this uncertainly on their backs," he said.


  • MICHAEL MILLER may be reached at (714) 966-4617 or at michael.miller@latimes.com.

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