TV-auction results challenged

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Bidders agreed to pay a total of $6.1 million for four new analog-TV stations
in a Federal Communications Commission auction concluded Wednesday.

The final results were cast in doubt, however, when one of the participants
charged that the top bidder for two stations had not revealed some
broadcast-industry interests and should be disqualified.

Roberts Broadcasting agreed to pay $2.5 million for channel 47 in Columbia,
S.C., and $1.9 million for channel 34 in Jackson, Miss.

Roberts' $4.4 million total bill would be cut to $3.3 million thanks to a 25
percent bidding credit allowed for new entrants to the broadcasting
industry.

Knoxville, Tenn., channel 25 charged that Roberts owner Michael Roberts
failed to disclose that he is a director of ACME Communications Inc., which
holds an attributable interest in nine TV stations.

To be eligible for new entrant credit, bidders may not hold attributable
interest in more than three broadcast properties.

In his bidding application, Roberts disclosed interests in only two stations
not controlled by ACME.

Knoxville channel 25's charges were based on ACME's most recent 10-K annual
report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Participants in the auction speculated that the FCC could deny Roberts the
two licenses if it concludes that there was intent to mislead the commission.
Otherwise, regulators may simply deny Roberts' right to use the new-entrant
bidding credit.

It is unclear whether Roberts will follow through with the payment if the
credit is denied, however.

Roberts officials did not return a phone call late Wednesday.

The other high bidders were Venture Technologies, which offered $1.3 million
for channel 51 Albany, N.Y., and Equity Broadcasting Corp., which offered
$376,000 for channel 16 Cheyenne, Wyo.

The FCC said it will not officially acknowledge winners for a couple of
days.

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