Spectrum Auction Winner Seeks to Sell License

One of the stations that sold its spectrum in the FCC incentive auction is asking the FCC to allow it to sell the license and some associated assets—including must-carry rights on cable—it retained for another $10 million.

The seller is Hero Licensco, which got $146.6 million for the 6 MHz worth of spectrum used by KBEH, a Spanish-language independent in Los Angeles, which meant the right to broadcast on channel 24.

Hero indicated to the FCC at the time of the auction it would strike a sharing agreement (with KWHY) if it won, though that was not binding.

Now it has filed an application to sell its remaining assets, including the license and the must-carry rights that the FCC said would go along with it after the auction, to KWHY owners Meruelo Television. But just in case the sale does not go through, at the same time both it and Meruelo filed applications to share KWHY's channel and a local marketing agreement (LMA) that would allow Meruelo to program KBEH.

Also listed as assets are some equipment, rights to the call letters KBEH—to the extent the FCC permits it—trademarks, domain names, the station's Facebook page and Twitter account, copyrights, logos, and the station's public inspection file.

If the $10 million sale does not go through, and the sharing agreement combined with the LMA are approved, Hero will pay $3 million to Meruelo for the privilege of sharing the channel.

If the FCC approves the sale of the spectrumless station, that will boost Hero's take to $156.6 million for getting out of the business and could trigger other such sales by stations who initially signaled they would be staying in the business.

An FCC spokesperson confirmed that winning bidders still have a license until they turn it in, so "to the extent we receive an application for transfer of such licenses we'll consider them as they're filed."

Absent an extension, KBEH and similarly situated auction winners have to relinquish their license no later than 180 days after receiving their auction winnings, which they will probably get in about three months if past auctions are prologue.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.