LocusPoint sues to stop sale of California public TV station

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Spectrum speculator LocusPoint filed another lawsuit Tuesday against the licensee of KCSM in San Mateo, Calif., seeking to halt the station’s sale to Bay Area public broadcaster KRCB.

A spokesperson for licensee San Mateo Community College District called the complaint “frivolous.”

LocusPoint contends that during the sale process, the district violated public bidding rules as well as California laws governing open records and open meetings. The district “arranged a shot-gun wedding to its accomplice,” KRCB licensee Rural California Broadcasting Corp., according to the suit.

The district struck a deal in 2013 that LocusPoint would subsidize the financially struggling KCSM in exchange for part of the district’s anticipated proceeds from the FCC’s spectrum auction. But during the auction process in November 2016, a KCSM executive failed to place a bid, disqualifying the station from further participation.

At that point, LocusPoint had invested $3,375,000 in running the station, it said in an April lawsuit over the failed bid. KCSM countersued, saying LocusPoint was in charge of bidding.

KCSM’s licensee announced the sale to KRCB for $12 million in September. KRCB President Nancy Dobbs said the sale agreement ensures that KRCB is not legally liable to LocusPoint.

In the latest lawsuit, LocusPoint said both parties agreed in the 2013 deal that KCSM could only be sold under two circumstances: if LocusPoint initiated the sale, or if the district chose to sell after it had met its contractual obligations to LocusPoint. The pending sale to KRCB, which needs FCC approval, is “outside the procedures” both parties had agreed to, the lawsuit said.

Although the district authorized a request for proposals to sell KCSM in June, it did not post an RFP for the sale on its website or elsewhere online, the complaint said. The district’s board “never publicly authorized or addressed the RFP, until it called a meeting three months later on 24 hours’ notice to approve the terms of the sale” to Rural California Broadcasting Corp., according to the document.

LocusPoint obtained documents about the sale process through the California Public Records Act, the suit said.

A district spokesperson told Current that LocusPoint “continues to waste our community’s resources with frivolous legal maneuvers.”

“LocusPoint’s gross negligence and breach during the auction violated the contract rights they are now trying to twist to stop the sale,” said Mitchell Bailey.

He added that the sale is in the “best interests” of the district, its students and community, and the board is working with KRCB and the FCC to finalize the deal.

Read the lawsuit: