Daystar Battles Public Outlet Over TV Station Ownership

A foundation airing public programming and the second largest Christian television network in the world argued their cases in the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals over a dispute concerning who should own a television station.

The case involves the auction sale of KOCE-TV by the Community College District of Orange County, Calif. The winning bidder was the KOCE-foundation, the fundraising arm of KOCE-TV.

Word of God Fellowship Inc. of Georgia, which does business as Daystar, argued that it should have won the 2003 auction bid.

The KOCE Foundation bought the station with a winning bid of $32 million, but only an $8 million cash down payment with the rest spread out over 30 years.

Daystar bid $25 million in cash and claimed that it should own the station because state law lets college districts sell surplus property for cash to the highest bidder, according to the Associated Press.

The foundation says that in a competitive bid, it deserved to win because it was designated as the "highest responsible bidder” by the district, according to a public statement asking station donors to support its defense fund.

In 2003, a lower court ruled in favor of the district. On appeal, that decision was overturned.

On Tuesday, a three-member panel of judges reheard the arguments, following a request by KOCE-TV, the foundation and the community college district.

At the end of Tuesday's arguments, the judges requested further briefs

Daystar attorney Richard Lloyd Sherman said that the district had a “symbiotic, close relationship” with the KOCE foundation and violated the state’s education code to keep the station from becoming the property of the Christian broadcaster.

Supporters for the KOCE station, worry that local programming would no longer be aired if Daystar bought it. They also contend that the college district has a responsibility to the County to keep the station as a public asset, said Ardell St. George outside of court, according to the AP.

As the second largest Christian television network in the world, Daystar owns 40 televisions nationwide and claims an audience of over 120 million people.