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Paxson arrives to help WQEX sale end amicably

Saturday, February 19, 2000

By Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV Editor

All is forgiven between Paxson Communications and Cornerstone TeleVision.

Lowell "Bud" Paxson, chairman of Pax TV parent company Paxson Communications Corp., visited Pittsburgh on Thursday to discuss ending the three-way deal with Cornerstone and WQED Pittsburgh.

Mark Dreistadt, Cornerstone vice president of administration and finance, said discussions with Paxson concluded amicably.

"He understands our perspective and we understand his," Dreistadt said. "We've cordially agreed to terminate the arrangement peaceably and we left the meeting with our relationship intact and his best wishes for the future."

Last month Cornerstone pulled out of a deal in which WQED Pittsburgh was to have sold WQEX, Cornerstone's WPCB would have moved from Channel 40 to Channel 16 and Pax TV would have entered the market on Channel 40.

Cornerstone said it could not trust the Federal Communications Commission not to impose new rules on religious broadcasters.

Dreistadt said Pax TV had already installed $3.2 million worth of equipment at the Channel 40 studios in Wall, anticipating the transfer to Channel 16. Paxson and Cornerstone are negotiating how to resolve that issue.

Dreistadt said he met with Paxson in Washington on Feb. 2, and at that time Paxson agreed not to sue Cornerstone for pulling out of the deal.

He also gave Cornerstone an extension to raise the funds necessary to pay for some or all of the equipment that's been installed. So far, Dreistadt said, WPCB has raised $500,000 and still needs more than a million to pay for its new antenna and transmitter.

Dreistadt said Paxson still wants his Pax TV network to have a presence in Pittsburgh.

"He didn't commit himself, but he said he had a couple of opportunities," Dreistadt said. "One was though some of the low-power stations that made themselves available to him. The other was through a direct link to AT&T Cable."

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