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Decision expected soon on WQEX sale

Friday, June 18, 1999

By Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV Editor

Last night at the WQED-TV Pittsburgh annual meeting, there was optimism the FCC will soon make a decision on the sale of WQEX.

The proposed sale has been before the FCC since mid-1997, and WQED's communications lawyer said a decision is imminent.

Steven Lerman said the record in the case is finally closed, meaning the comment period is over.

"I would expect some action within the next 30 days," Lerman said.

While such predictions have been made before, WQED is proceeding with plans to launch a nightly local program this fall. Carolyn Wean, executive director for production, said preparation has begun.

"We're actually beginning to do launch work, get segments nailed down," she said. "We've just stopped short of building a set or hiring people."

If the sale of WQEX is approved, WQED will receive approximately $15.8 million, WPCB will move to Channel 16 and Pax TV will take over Channel 40. WQED did not factor proceeds from the sale into its $17.6 million budget for fiscal year 2000, beginning July 1.

The new budget exceeds break-even expectations and should give the station excess operating revenue of $433,000.

W. Thomas McGough, acting chairman of the board since the resignation of county executive candidate Jim Roddey in March, was named chairman and Herbert B. Conner, a member of the WQED board of directors since 1996, was named vice chairman.

Roddey was named trustee emeritus. A conference room on WQED's third floor was named after him in a dedication ceremony following the annual meeting.

New board members include James E. Abraham and state Rep. Ralph Kaiser, D-Brentwood.

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