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Broadcaster pulls spectrum-less station sale

Hero Licenseco LLC has pulled its application to sell the license of KBEH in Los Angeles, a deal that had attracted special attention from the Federal Communications Commission.

Hero had planned to sell the KBEH license to KWHY-22 Broadcasting LLC, a subsidiary of Meruelo Group's broadcast segment, for $10 million. The deal was notable because although KBEH has full-power must-carry privileges, Hero sold the station's spectrum during the FCC's recent 600 MHz broadcast incentive auction. In conjunction with the deal, Hero and Meruelo entered into a channel-sharing agreement, under which the stations planned to share on a jointly licensed basis the 6 MHz channel assigned to KWHY, Meruelo's Los Angeles-based Spanish-language station. In addition, the two companies signed a local marketing agreement stating that Meruelo would program KBEH.

Hero said it was withdrawing the application but gave no reason as to the decision in a May 31 filing with the FCC.

In considering the application, the commission noted in early May that the deal was the first to propose the sale of a station that had relinquished its spectrum in the auction in conjunction with the implementation of a channel-sharing agreement.

While the application to sell the station has been pulled, the application for the channel-sharing agreement remains in place, a lawyer for Hero confirmed. It is unclear how Hero plans to proceed.

KBEH is not the only station that sold its spectrum during the FCC auction while retaining its license and must-carry rights. In February, the New Hampshire station WBIN announced that in addition to selling its spectrum in the auction, it had agreed to sell its remaining television license rights to a major television group for an undisclosed amount. NH1 News, which broadcast on WBIN, estimated the secondary sale to be worth $10 million to $30 million.