California’s fifth largest public television station, KCSM-TV, has been the property of the College of San Mateo and its governing board, the San Mateo Community College District, for more than half century.
Recently the station, which once trained much of the Bay Area’s broadcasting corps with probably the best educational program ever offered at a public community college, has been very much unwanted property.
The station was put up for sale, twice, and some very reasonable offers from new operators were turned down in favor of a deal with a hedge fund, the Blackstone Group, to have subsidiary Locus Point Networks, eradicate the station entirely by selling its spectrum to wireless companies in the FCC’s spectrum auction.
The get rich quick scheme foundered. The District’s authorized bidder, who appears to have been VP Jan Roecks, failed to make a bid at some point in the complex procedure and KCSM-TV was dropped from the auction.
Now the hedge fund and the school district are suing each other, each claiming the $3.3 million Locuspoint paid to subsidize the station until the auction belongs to them and each laying claim to the $114 million the station’s spectrum might have sold for.
The first inkling of the disaster came when the District filed a comically redacted lawsuit filing, which consists of 29 blacked out pages. A countersuit by Locuspoint (the hedge firm) and an amended complaint by the District are a little more readable.
You can read them all here.
The mess, which means the District still owns their unwanted television station, comes as the College’s much-loved jazz station KCSM Radio, is also facing pressure from the administrators after running a small deficit and fans are worried about that station’s future.