Peoria’s WTVP sees doable settlement with bank

Originally published in Current, Feb. 4, 2008

Bank of America agreed last week to knock $750,000 more off the amount owed by public TV station WTVP in a classic debt-collection struggle that approaches conclusion in Peoria, Ill.

The nation’s largest bank had been threatening the station in the 117th largest TV market that it would push it into receivership Jan. 15 if it didn’t fork over the approximately $6.9 million remaining on a loan (earlier story, Jan. 22, 2008). But negotiators lurched toward a deal when WTVP boosted its settlement offer from $4 million to $4.8 million Jan. 7 and the bank dropped its previous demand of $6 million to $5.25 million three weeks later, according to the station.

Station leaders are confident they can raise the additional $450,000 by the bank’s deadline of Feb. 28, President Chet Tomczyk told Current. They had just raised $800,000 from several donors who chose to remain anonymous and had held back on broadcast appeals to avoid “donor fatigue,” he said. Tomczyk expects to do some on-air fundraising to help close the remaining gap.

If WTVP pays the $5.25 million, its debt picture will much improved, he noted. Last summer, before the bank lost faith in WTVP’s credit-worthiness and demanded full payment, the station owed about $8.5 million, with 17 years to pay. It expects to owe just $2 million on its new loan, payable in 15 years.

Web page posted Feb. 5, 2008
Copyright 2008 by Current Publishing Committee

Pledging enables WTVP to refinance

Indeed, the fundraising task was doable. WTVP announced Feb.27 that it had received pledges from more than 6,400 households, exceeding $2 million in total, to pay the station's bank debt.

"You’ve done it! You’ve saved your public television station from extinction, and we will be forever grateful!" said a notice on WTVP's website.

The Caterpillar Foundation, Better Banks and major donors pitched in.


If last-ditch pledging fails, WTVP faces receivership.


On its website, WTVP continues its Save Our Station pledge campaign, with the new target of $450,000.

"The station has negotiated an agreement that will see its creditors writing off $2 million of the original outstanding debt," reports the Bloomington, Ill. Pantagraph.

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