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KOCE sale heads back to courtroom

July 26, 2005|By: Michael Miller

An appellate court has accepted two petitions, one from the Daystar

Television Network and one from the Coast Community College District,

asking for rehearings on the sale of KOCE-TV.

Earlier this month, the network and the district filed separate

petitions regarding the June 23 decision by the Fourth District Court

of Appeal to nullify the sale of the station to the KOCE-TV

Foundation. Daystar filed a petition on July 8 demanding that the

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court award it immediate ownership of the station; 11 days later the district asked the judges to reconsider their ruling.

On Monday, Deputy Clerk Orlando Duarte confirmed that the court

had accepted both petitions. It remains to be seen whether the judges

will call for a court rehearing on either petition or simply issue a

second opinion.

"I don't know what it means, if they'll change their minds

entirely or just clean up their opinion, but they'll take a second

look at it," said Milford Dahl, attorney for the college district.

"It seems to me you have everything to gain, nothing to lose by the

rehearing."

With the petitions granted Monday, the appellate court will now

have 30 days in which to file a second opinion or call for a hearing

date, deputy clerk Toni Cajigal said.

While awaiting the determination of its fate, KOCE remains under

the ownership of the foundation, which acquired it last November

after the district named it the highest responsible bidder. Judge

David Sills, in his June 23 opinion, ruled that Daystar was the

rightful winner of the station because it had made the highest offer

in cash, but he stopped short of ordering immediate transfer of

ownership to the televangelist network.

"I think the court pretty much set forth its views on the sale of

the station to begin with, and I wouldn't think that it would make a

180 from that and reach an opposite result," said Cameron Totten, one

of Daystar's attorneys.

If the court awards the station to Daystar, the district and

foundation would face considerable difficulties undoing their sale

from last year. Board members say the district has spent much of the

foundation's $8 million down payment, and the foundation has owned

the license to KOCE since last November.

To cancel the sale to the foundation or to sell the station to

another bidder, the district would have to reclaim ownership of the

license. Neither the district nor the foundation desires, or knows

how, to carry out such an action under the current circumstances.

"I don't think that will be their ruling [on Daystar's petition],"

said trustee Jerry Patterson, "but we'll have to face that when it

comes -- if it comes. I think the court is unlikely to ask for more

than can be done."

Totten said he did not believe that the appellate court could undo

the actions of the Federal Communications Commission, which granted

the license to the foundation, but surmised that the court could

order the parties to transfer ownership. The issue of the down

payment, he said, was up to the district and foundation.

"A lot of it has been spent, but they're going to have to come up

with the money unless the foundation wants to just waive it," Totten

said.

A spokeswoman for the Federal Communications Commission did not

return calls seeking comment.

* MICHAEL MILLER covers education and may be reached at (714)

966-4617 or by e-mail at michael.miller@latimes.com.

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