Banks agree to lighten WTVP's debt load; $450,000 still needed

2008-01-29T00:00:00Z Banks agree to lighten WTVP's debt load; $450,000 still neededDan Craft
January 29, 2008 12:00 am  • 

PEORIA - The financial crisis threatening to terminate Peoria public television station WTVP has been given another major reprieve, it was announced Tuesday.

The station has negotiated an agreement that will see its creditors writing off $2 million of the original outstanding debt.

Instead of the original total of $7.2 million, the creditors - Bank of America and Commerce Bank - have agreed to a final sum of $5.2 million.

"That's coming down a great deal," said station spokeswoman Stacey Tomczyk. "That's a price that will end the whole thing."

Two weeks ago, the station still owed its creditors $2 million; by last Friday that sum had dropped to around $500,000, thanks to a trio of donor pledges.

As of Tuesday's developments, the debt total dropped another chunk to $450,000, a figure reached after a series of "intense meetings and negotiations" with the two banks.

The station must raise the remaining money by Feb. 28, a goal that Tomczyk said she thinks will be met through stepped-up pleas for donations.

Taking appeal for money up a notch

She said the "soft-sell" approach taken up to now through pre-recorded spots aired throughout the day will be replaced by live appeals during prime evening hours.

In addition, the station will begin using telemarketing as a tool and continue to search for major donors.

If the remaining $450,000 isn't raised come Feb. 28, WTVP will be in the hands of the creditors.

The station was originally issued a Jan. 15 deadline for paying off the station's outstanding long-term debt, incurred through a loan taken out to finance WTVP's move from Bradley University to new studios on the downtown Peoria riverfront.

The station's original offer of $4 million - derived from viewer pledges and a mortgage from National City Bank and the Illinois Facilities Fund - was rejected.

Since then, negotiations have continued.

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