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Appeals Court to Review Decision on KOCE-TV Sale

Times Staff Writer

A state appeals court agreed Monday to review its decision to reverse the sale of Orange County’s PBS station, a month after calling the Coast Community College District’s decision not to sell KOCE-TV to a Christian broadcaster “the rankest form of favoritism.”

The 4th District Appellate Court’s action might include another hearing, but the justices are more likely to reexamine materials already filed. The judges could come to almost any decision, from allowing the original sale to go though to deciding the station should be sold to the Daystar Television Network.

There is no deadline for the court to make a decision.

The district sold Channel 50, based at Golden West College in Huntington Beach, to the KOCE-TV Foundation, run by a group of community and business leaders. The foundation has been operating the station for almost 10 months.

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On the last day of bidding, the foundation offered what it said was $32 million for the station. The price included $8 million down, with the rest to be paid over 30 years with no interest and no payments for five years. Experts placed the value in today’s dollars at $12.5 million to $19.5 million.

Daystar had offered $25.1 million cash for the station. One day after the deadline the world’s second-largest Christian broadcaster sweetened the offer to $40 million cash, but district trustees turned it down.

The college district and Daystar both asked the appeals court to review its decision after it canceled the sale and said the district could either keep the station or hold another round of bidding. Daystar, which the court said made the highest bid, wants the court to order the district to sell the station to the televangelism firm.

The district argues that the judges’ original decision was wrong and the station should remain in the foundation’s hands.

Richard Lloyd Sherman, a lawyer for Texas-based Daystar, said it was unlikely the court would completely change its mind. “Based on the language of their original ruling, they’re not going to change the basic opinion,” he said.

Milford Dahl, the district’s attorney, said, “It’s not necessarily a positive sign, but at least we don’t have an adverse opinion right now.”

KOCE President Mel Rogers was more confident. “We believe that once all the facts in the case are clarified, we’ll get a good result,” he said.

Daystar also has sued the district and the foundation in federal court, accusing them of violating the law to keep a Christian broadcaster from buying the station.


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