Daystar Television Network--the Marcus Lamb-owned powerhouse that bought KDTN-Channel 2 from KERA in 2003 for some $20 mil and has some 50 million viewers worldwide, so it claims--wants to buy a channel in Los Angeles, KOCE-TV. An Democratic assemblyman from Anaheim, Tom Umberg, doesn't want that to happen. That's why he has "quietly introduced legislation to allow an Orange County community college district to sell its public television station to a well-connected local foundation for less money" than Daystar offered, says this morning's Los Angeles Times. The courts have already killed the sale to this foundation--whose backers include the likes of Allergan Inc. chairman and CEO David Pyott and former baseball commissioner Peter Ueberroth--since it wasn't the highest bidder. The phrase "the rankest form of favoritism" was used by the courts. But that wasn't good enough for Umberg, who snuck the bill through the California Senate Education Committee without telling anyone, especially Daystar. Reports the Times:
"Richard Lloyd Sherman, lawyer for the televangelist network, Daystar, said district officials were surreptitiously trying to create an exception for themselves under state law.
'They broke the law, so now they're trying to change the law to suit their needs, and you can't do that,' he said."
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Incidentally, KOCE-TV's kinda like KDTN used to be--a rehashing of programming airing on another local Public Broadcasting Service channel, with some other civic-affairs programming tossed in. In other words, it ain't exactly watched by a ton of people, but its owners would prefer it remain locally owned and operated than part of a religious-broadcasting chain that carries shows and services featuring the likes of T.D. Jakes, Joel Osteen and Jerry Falwell. Best part of the story? Umberg denies to the paper that the bill "was being pushed in secret but acknowledged that his office did not notify Daystar of its existence." But, hey, what does he care? He's termed out of office at the end of the month. What are they gonna do? Fire him? --Robert Wilonsky