Plans to sell KCSM-TV may have hit a roadblock as the San Mateo County Community College District staff is suggesting the board reject all bids Wednesday.
After struggling for years to eliminate the $1 million operating deficit for KCSM-TV, the San Mateo County Community College District decided to sell the station late last year. Six bids were received by Feb. 14. Negotiations with the two responsive highest bidders have yet to be successful. As a result, district staff is requesting the board reject all bids — a proposal that goes before the board during its regular meeting Wednesday.
Board President Dave Mandelkern said, if approved, the rejection of bids would not change the situation. The district cannot afford to support the program. However, it also wants to make the best decision for the public, he said.
Chancellor Ron Galatolo explained Wednesday’s conversation is simply about the current bids. If the board moves to reject all bids, Galatolo will likely ask that a study session be scheduled to discuss how to proceed.
The move to sell the station came after nearly two years of struggling to cut the program’s $1 million operating deficit. Of the six bids received, the district moved forward with negotiations with FM Media TV, Inc. and San Mateo County TV Corporation. Each answered clarifying questions and started conversations with the district for the best and final offer, according to a staff report prepared by Jan Roecks, interim dean of business, workforce and athletics at Cañada College. However, the district was unable to reach agreements with either party.
"FM Media TV, Inc. has not been able to demonstrate funding as promised. San Mateo Community TV Corporation has not been able to demonstrate to our satisfaction that it could meet the FCC’s requirement of local representation, or at least that it could do so within a reasonable time,” Roecks wrote.
KCSM-TV began operating in 1964 at its current location at the College of San Mateo. The non-commercial station broadcasts a variety of programs including television courses, the numbers for which have dropped in recent years in favor of online classes. Broadcasting, as a program, was on hiatus for a couple of years but returned more than a year ago with all new digital gear.
The challenge for elected officials has been the budget strain. In recent years, millions in cuts have been made. Programs with low enrollment were put on hiatus or discontinued and the board adopted a "core values” focus. As a result, programs not addressing the basic needs of students need to be self-funded, per the district’s direction. KCSM-TV is one of the programs which fell into this category.
A potential sale would include the station, its lease to Sutro Tower and the transmitter as well as equipment. Selling the television station, however, would not impact KCSM FM — the district radio station which will continue to operate as JAZZ 91.1, according to the district. When requesting proposals, the district specified that bidders must be either a nonprofit corporation or another type of eligible entity permitted to operate a noncommercial television station.
The district meets 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 24 at the District Office, 3401 CSM Drive, San Mateo.
Heather Murtagh can be reached by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 105.