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Daystar TV Suing College District Trustees Over KOCE Sale

Jul 21, 2005  •  Post A Comment

Christian broadcaster Daystar Television Network is suing three college district trustees for refusing the network’s bid to buy Orange County’s PBS affiliate, KOCE-TV, Daystar attorney Richard L. Sherman announced today.

Daystar is accusing the Coast Community College District of violating the network’s constitutional freedom of religion by purposefully not selling the station to a network devoted to Christian programming. Mr. Sherman announced the lawsuit at a meeting of the college district board of trustees, its first meeting since a California appeals court overturned its sale of KOCE to the KOCE Foundation.

The lawsuit accuses the trustees of violating the First, Fifth and 14th amendments of the constitution. Mr. Sherman said that the fact that the sale was overturned proved “favoritism and discrimination against the Christian broadcasters.” Daystar repetitioned the 4th District Court of Appeal two weeks ago to award it the station for its original bid of $25.1 million. The religious network has offered to keep 15 percent to 20 percent of KOCE’s programming public, Mr. Sherman said. The KOCE Foundation has maintained the station’s complete PBS lineup since it took over in November.

The court determined in June that the Coast County district had not sold KOCE to the highest cash bidder, a violation of an educational code statute. The foundation bid $32 million, promising $8 million as a down payment with the rest to be paid over 30 years. Daystar bid $25.1 million and then upped its bid to $40 million a day after the bidding deadline.

Spokespersons for KOCE have said that Daystar’s higher bid simply came too late to be considered, but Daystar cited in the lawsuit that the district continued to negotiate a price with the foundation several months after the $32 million bid was accepted.