The FCC has delayed decisions on two transactions involving sales of public TV stations to Daystar Television Network to examine whether the religious broadcaster meets its criteria for localism and educational programming by noncommercial broadcasters. The scrutiny scuttled a deal involving WMFE in Orlando, pending for nearly a year, and held up a decision on KWBU in Waco, Texas. Daystar, a Texas-based religious network, has been in the market for public TV stations since at least 2003, when it paid $20 million for KERA’s second TV channel in Dallas. It most recently bid on KCSM in San Mateo, Calif. The WMFE sale fell apart after the FCC sent queries to the local entities that had been set up to operate the Orlando and Waco stations.
Potential bidders for pubcaster KCSM-TV in San Mateo, Calif., put up for auction by its college licensee, include both religious broadcasters and names well known in public media. Daystar Television, a growing religious network that has bought pubTV channels in Dallas and Waco, Texas, and bid for them in Orlando, Fla., and Orange County, Calif., was on the attendance list for the San Mateo Community College District’s pre-bid meeting Jan. 10. Also on the list were former WNET exec Ken Devine of Independent Public Media, a nonprofit that aims to preserve spectrum for public media (Current, Oct. 17); Ken Ikeda and Marc Hand of Public Media Company, an affiliate of Public Radio Capital; Booker Wade, head of the Minority Television Project and non-PBS pubTV station KMTP in San Francisco; and a rep for Stewart Cheifet Productions, which created Computer Chronicles, a show that ran on public TV for 20 years, ending in 2002.