OHA Purchase of KGMB TV Would be Very Bad

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) entertained the possibility of buying TV station KGMB (Channel 9). The CBS affiliate has been on sale for more than a year by its current owner Emmis Communications. Recent meetings by an OHA committee set matters into motion to explore the possible purchase of the commercial TV station two days ago.

I firmly believe that government agencies should stay completely out of ownership of commercial media. The stated intention for OHA’s purchase of KGMB would have been to use it as a “medium of accurate and timely communication regarding Hawaiian affairs to the general public…” re: OHA run propaganda media machine. Surely, programming would be altered and the up and coming KGMB newscast would be seriously compromised, not to mention that this purchase would be a misuse of taxpayer dollars.

Emmis wants to sell the station for at least $40 million.

Late yesterday, the OHA Board of Trustees decided to nix the purchase idea at another meeting. Trustee Oswald Stender may still bring the issue up again.

This is not the first time that some branch of State Government has looked into the possibility of media ownership. Several years ago the State Legislature had a proposal before them to set up a traffic information radio station. Up until a few years ago, the State was actually subsidizing the operations of KHET Channel 11, Hawaii’s PBS station with taxpayer dollars. The State still funds operations at Olelo, the public access government and educational cable channels.

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