The spectrum speculator adds to its growing portfolio of underperforming independent stations by buying the Los Angeles station, which airs programming in Chinese, Korean and Tagalog. NRJ TV is collecting stations, hoping to eventually sell their spectrum through the FCC’s planned incentive auction.
A federal bankruptcy judge has approved the sale of Asian-language independent KSCI Los Angeles to NRJ TV, the station announced late yesterday.
Judge Mary F. Walrath of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware approved the deal on March 23, but it is still subject to FCC approval.
The owners of the station, led by International Media Group, entered into Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January, and since then have been operating the station as debtors-in-possession.
NRJ TV positioned itself to acquire KSCI by buying up the station’s debt prior to the bankruptcy filing.
The station did not disclose how much NRJ TV is paying.
Owned by investors Ted Bartley, Larry Patrick and Bert Ellis, NRJ TV has been buying underperforming stations in major markets with the hope of eventually selling the spectrum to wireless carriers at a profit through the FCC’s planned “incentive auction.”
Earlier this year, President Obama signed into law legislation authorizing the incentive auction, under which proceeds are to be split between the U.S. treasury and broadcasters who voluntarily put up spectrum for auction.
Before the FCC can conduct an incentive auction, however, it has to adopt implementing rules and procedures. That process could take years.
In the meantime, NRJ TV is operating the stations it acquires as best it can. In the case of KSCI, that means a continuation of programming in Chinese, Korean and Tagalog.
In a prepared statement, NRJ TV CEO Ted Bartley said that the company recognizes the value of the station to the Asian community in Los Angeles. “Under NRJ TV’s new ownership, we are confident that the current management and staff can further strengthen the station’s services in the community and the Asian advertising industry.”
Since its founding in 2010, NRJ has also purchased stations in New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Boston.
In another statement, Dennis Davis, the chief restructuring officer who has been managing the station, thanked the employees for their dedication during “this difficult time of uncertainty,” noting that they had launched a new Chinese talk show in January.
“We look forward to building upon KSCI’s strong reputation for producing high quality local news and variety shows in and for the Asian communities,” he said.