Evangelists Revive Offer for KOCE

Times Staff Writer

The televangelist network embroiled in a fight for Orange County’s PBS station has resurrected its $25.1-million purchase offer and further offered to pay any sale-related legal claims against the college district that owns KOCE.

But the offer by Daystar Television Network may mean little because of legal questions surrounding the station’s sale to a local foundation. A state appeals court ruled last month for the second time that Coast Community College District’s sale of the station to the KOCE-TV Foundation was improper because the district did not sell it to the highest bidder -- Daystar -- as law requires.

The court held that the district must keep Channel 50 or put it up for bid again. The court also ruled against Daystar’s request that, as highest bidder, it be allowed to buy the station. Daystar first offered $25.1 million in cash after the district decided in 2002 to put KOCE up for sale. The Costa Mesa district had been subsidizing the station with about $1.8 million annually.


The Christian network increased its offer to $40 million a day after the bid deadline, but the district did not consider it. Instead, it sold the station to the KOCE Foundation, which said it would continue the station’s affiliation with the Public Broadcasting System.

Foundation officials had said their offer was worth $32 million, with an $8-million down payment and the rest to be paid over time with interest. But when the sale was completed, the deal had substantially changed. The appeals court put the final sale price as having a value of $19.5 million to $23.5 million. If the college district does not appeal the case to the state Supreme Court, it will be sent back to Orange County Superior Court, where attorneys expect an order returning the station to the district.

Milford Dahl, attorney for the district, said he expected the Board of Trustees to appeal. He said accepting Daystar’s offer could leave the district open to lawsuits from other potential bidders who felt left out of the process.

Daystar attorney Richard Lloyd Sherman faxed his client’s proposal to the district Tuesday. Like the original offer, the current one is for cash.

The trustees plan to hold a regular meeting tonight but may not consider the offer.

Sherman said that although the appeals court did not award the station to his client, which is based in Texas, “it didn’t say that the district was prohibited from doing it.” As part of the offer, Daystar would drop its federal lawsuit against the district and trustees. In its two-page proposal, Daystar also offered to air the station’s signature “Real Orange” news-feature program if the foundation or college district paid for it and air more local programs than currently shown on KOCE. It also said it would air more children’s and Spanish-language programs.

The offer did not say whether these would be religious programs.