UPN Offers Highest Bid for KTLC

Article excerpt

The Oklahoma Educational Television Authority received 10 cash bids to purchase KTLC, Channel 43.

Bids ranged from $1.5 million to $23.5 million, said Robert Allen, executive director of OETA.

The highest cash bid at $23.5 million was from the young TV network UPN. UPN, owned by Parmount Corp., currently airs on KOCB, Channel 34, which is changing its affiliation to the WB Network, owned by Time-Warner on Jan. 18. Because of the change at Channel 34, UPN will be left without a local affiliate unless their bid is accepted by OETA. Allen said the UPN bid "appears at this time to be the highest and the best." However, he said, the OETA board will have to study the bids carefully since they also include noncash offers such as equipment. Once the noncash portions of the bids are taken into consideration, he said, the board will have a better picture of the bids' overall values. The board will make a decision at a meeting in early January. After OETA accepts a bid, it could take two to three months for the transaction to receive Federal Communication Commission approval. Allen said he expects the transaction's closing date to be in April. Allen said about $5.6 million of the sale's proceeds will help fund the station's costs in establishing a digital signal. The FCC has set a deadline of December 2003 for the station to begin offering a digital signal. Commercial stations in the Oklahoma City market have until December 2002. A preliminary estimate for setup costs for a digital signal is between $11 million and $12 million. OETA plans to raise another $5.6 million toward the cost through a state bond offering. Allen said the remainder of funds from the proceeds of the sale of the station will go into an endowment. Earnings from the endowment will fund additional costs in transforming the station to a digital signal and maintaining the station. Allen said the second-highest cash bid came from Sinclair Broadcast Group of Baltimore. …