Rep. Matthew G. Martinez (D-Monterey Park) said Tuesday that he intends to introduce a bill today to block the sale of KMEX-TV and four other major Spanish-language television stations to Hallmark Cards and First Capital Corp. of Chicago.
The proposed sale, announced Monday, would transfer the nation's largest group of Spanish-language television stations to non-Latino owners. Hallmark and First Capital said they intend to continue the stations' Spanish-language format.
The $301.5-million transaction also includes five low-power television stations.
The transfer of the stations' licenses must be approved by the Federal Communications Commission. Early this year an FCC administrative law judge recommended that the stations be stripped of their licenses because they are controlled by foreign interests, but the FCC then reached a preliminary settlement with owner Spanish International Communications Corp. when it agreed to sell the stations.
Martinez said his proposed legislation would force the FCC to implement its "minority distress sale policy." Under that policy, a licensee who is about to go through a revocation hearing--which could lead to the loss of the license--can elect to sell the television license to a minority group at 75% of its fair market value rather than go through the hearing. The proposed bill states that its purpose is to authorize the FCC to permit the transfer of the stations' licenses "only as such transfer or assignment is to a qualified minority entity," Martinez said.