Long-Contested Weigel Buy Gets FCC OK


As astute RBR+TVBR readers likely know, “TV-49 Inc.” is an entity tied to Norman Shapiro’s Weigel Broadcasting Co.

In late October 2017, Weigel — widely known for its MeTV digital multcast network and Classic Hits “MeTV FM” radio brand — agreed to purchase three TV stations from OTA Broadcasting for $23.2 million. However, the sale of one of these three TV stations was challenged.

At long last, the fight is over for Weigel and the entity seeking a Commission kill. Weigel is getting the Class A TV station, which serves one of America’s biggest markets.

That late October deal agreed upon 27 months ago sees Weigel’s TV-49 subsidiary  acquiring the following stations from OTA Broadcasting:

  • KTLN-68, licensed to Novato, Calif., which is selling for $8.1 million
  • KAXT-CD, a Class A station at Channel 42 in San Jose, which is being sold for $2 million
  • KFFV-44 in Seattle, Wash., and KVOS-35 in Bellingham, Wash., which are being sold for a combined purchase price of $13.1 million

The sale of KAXT-42 didn’t sit well with Nalini Kapur, Rishi Kapur, and Ravi Kapur.

As the full FCC shared in a Memorandum Opinion and Order released Jan. 22, The Kapurs in 2018 sought the Commissioners’ review of a decision by the Video Division of the Media Bureau that rejected, on delegated authority, their Petition for Reconsideration of a Nov. 2017 memorandum opinion and order that denied the Kapur’s initial Application for Review of “multiple staff decisions” relating to KAXT’s sale.

This 2018 Application for Review was just denied.

At the heart of the Kapur’s fight is the transfer of control in 2014 of KAXT from “KAXT LLC,” in which they were minority interest holders, to OTA Broadcasting — the entity formed by Dell Technologies founder/CEO Michael Dell to take advantage of the FCC’s spectrum auction. The Kapur trio wants the FCC to rewind the clock to 2014, and reverse the sale of KAXT to OTA — thus preventing Weigel from getting it.

No dice, even with the Kapur’s submission of “new material evidence” to the Commission.

“We have reviewed the evidence provided by the Kapurs and conclude that, even when
considered in conjunction with the admitted violations set forth in the Consent Decree, it does not provide a sufficient basis to call into question OTA’s basic qualifications,” the full Commission ruled. “The Commission—at both the staff and Commission level—has given the Kapurs a full and fair opportunity to be heard. While we decline to impose any sanctions at this time, we remind all parties before the Commission that our processes and procedures should not be abused in an effort to resolve private contractual disputes.”

KAXT’s history in the Bay Area is well documented through RBR+TVBR‘s coverage of the Class A digital facility. In October 2009, it made headlines for boasting no less than 12 digital signals, and four audio channels. “Using advanced video processing solutions from Harmonic, transmission equipment from Linear Industries, and PSIP generation from Triveni Digital, KAXT is currently broadcasting 12 video channels and four audio channels and planning to add more audio services later,” wrote Carl Marcucci. “KAXT is the first station in the U.S. to be successful in offering such a large range of programming in a 19.39-Mbps spectrum.”

KAXT since 1989 had provided educational, community service, and spiritual programming to multicultural communities in the San Francisco Bay Area. As of August 2009 this was comprised of Cool Music Network, Que Huong Radio (TV), Tiempos Finales (Dios TV), Bahia TV, Diya TV, My Family TV, TellyTopia TV (i2TV), Coastal TV, Jewelry TV, Peanut TV and La Voz.

Fast-forward to October 2014, and OTA ownership, which shifted KAXT’s programming to the RetroTV digital multicast network.

OTA acquired KAXT in February 2013 from KAXT LLC, with FCC documents listing Warren L. Trumbley as the individual signing off on the $10.1 million deal. Trumbley and Ravi Kapur were the main partners in KAXT LLC. The Kapurs got involved in August 2009, with the transfer of KAXT-CD from Trumbley’s Broadland Properties to KAXT LLC in a debt-forgiveness fueled deal valued at $850,000, RBR+TVBR archived materials note.

OTA sold KAXT to Weigel for $2 million.

— Archival reporting by Carl Marcucci and the late Dave Seyler.