IPM offers loans to cash-strapped pubTV stations

By Ben Mook

This item has been updated and reposted with additional information.

Independent Public Media this week unveiled a new program to provide bridge funding to financially troubled pubTV stations. The loans will help them stay on-the-air through the FCC’s incentive spectrum auction, and require a pay out from auction proceeds.

IPM designed the loan program to assist noncommercial broadcasters until they can sell off some, but not all, of their spectrum bandwidth through the FCC auction, and assumed that stations will gain a big pay-off by participating. Once auction proceeds begin rolling in, IPM will recover the costs of auction expenses and then principal and interest on its loan. The remaining auction revenues would be split between IPM and the station.

Colorado-based IPM was founded in 2011 by public media activist John Schwartz and has allocated $40 million to assist noncommercial TV stations from going dark or being sold to religious broadcasters. The loans are being offered through IPM’s Public TV Financing subsidiary.

“Our objective is to help ensure that public television stations are afforded every opportunity to continue to serve their communities,” said IPM c.o.o. Ken Devine, in a statement. “Unlike those parties who are interested only in the exploitation of the market value of spectrum, IPM is dedicated to preserving nonprofit public television. When financially stressed licensees look to liquidate all of their holdings for a hoped-for payday, it further threatens the underpinnings of public television.”

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