WTVP SAVED!!

Wednesday, February 27th, 2008

You’ve done it! You’ve saved your public television station from extinction, and we will be forever grateful!! Thanks to the generosity of families and individuals in over 6,400 households in Central Illinois, we received over $2 million in pledges that allowed us to avoid going dark and to settle the long term debt crisis that was facing the station.

We would like to thank each and every one of you for your pledges - large and small -because you made the difference between success and failure for WTVP. Our thanks to the Caterpillar Foundation and the many other companies like Better Banks who matched your pledges in the Save Our Station campaign. Thanks to major donors like Glen Barton, Doug Oberhelman, Don Fites, Jim Waters and those who wished to remain anonymous, but whose contributions since February 1 got us over the last hump. Thanks to the many people and businesses throughout the area who spoke with friends and neighbors and encouraged their support…who put signs up on their businesses seeking support for WTVP. Thanks to the press for their unbiased and professional reporting of our situation. Thanks to the staff of WTVP, who never lost heart and functioned professionally through it all. Thanks to the volunteers who appeared on air to ask for your support, and to the Board and Executive Committee of WTVP for their strength, leadership and contributions. Thanks to National City Bank and the IFF for their confidence in the future of WTVP.

And most especially, WE THANK YOU for your many comments, your unwavering support and for your pledges. You’ve made Public Television in central Illinois possible…you saved WTVP.


Wednesday, February 13th, 2008

We’re almost there! WTVP is only $220,000 short of the $5.25 million needed to pay the banks and put this long-term debt issue behind us. Your pledge, payable immediately, is more important than ever. Please consider using a credit card and call (309) 495-0555, or pledge here right now.

WTVP signed an agreement with Bank of America and Commerce Bank at the end of January that reduced the station’s debt from $7.25 to $5.25 million if paid by February 28, 2008. At that point, the station only had $4.8 million, an amount comprised of $2 million in SOS pledges, a $2 million mortgage from National City, and $800,000 in anonymous private donations. Signing the agreement committed the station to raising an additional $450,000 before February 28—a commitment WTVP was happy to make rather than close the station.

If you’ve already made a contribution, we thank you very much—it’s you who have gotten us to this happy point. If you’ve been waiting until the bitter end … this is it. We have two more weeks to raise the needed $220,000 and we need your help. We thank you in advance for your needed and generous support.

 


Wednesday, February 6th, 2008

Last week we announced that a tentative settlement of WTVP’s long-term debt issues had been reached with Bank of America and Commerce Bank. The agreement stipulated that WTVP would have to pay $5,250,000 on or before February 28 to bring the issue to full resolution.

Our Board was convinced that this was the best possible arrangement that we could get the banks to agree to so, even though we were $450,000 short of the needed money, authorized the Chairman to sign the agreement. Since then we have been in a “quiet” phase asking various friends and supporters to dig a little deeper to help meet the goal. I am pleased to tell you that the shortfall has been reduced to about $300,000.

As we near the goal, we will again go public with the appeal. This week we will be mailing appeals to major donors and to previous Funds for Forty Seven contributors and we will again be on air asking for Save Our Station donations.

The major difference between this and the earlier phase of the SOS campaign is that we will be asking for immediate cash and credit card contributions, as opposed to the pledges we sought earlier. These cash contributions will be immediately applied to funding the $300,000 shortfall. Confusing? I can see why, and I will try to explain.

The Save Our Station pledges that have been made since December 6 do not come due until March. As we said throughout, these pledges allowed us to leverage a bridge loan from National City Bank that will be used as part of the settlement with Bank of America and Commerce Bank. That loan, along with a mortgage on the property, cash on hand and several major anonymous pledges get us to $4.8 million. Your immediate cash or credit card contribution now will make up the difference between what we have and the $5.25 million we have to pay on February 28. In short, the glass is nearly full. Your help now gets us to the top.

Thank you to all who have pledged so far and made it possible to be so close to resolution. Thank you to you and everyone else who makes a contribution now to finish it off.

Thank you.

Chet Tomczyk
President & CEO

 


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Several developments have taken place over the last few days that impact the future of WTVP and Public Television in Central Illinois.

Last week was especially pivotal in gaining a resolution to our financial issues. Following a series of intense meetings and negotiations, the Executive Committee of our Board sent a proposal to Bank of America requesting settlement of the debt at $5.25 million. This would require the banks to discount the loan by approximately $2 million, while requiring WTVP to increase its last offer by $1.25 million. Late Friday evening, we received confirmation that Bank of America had accepted the offer under certain two conditions:

1) The entire Board must agree to the deal by today, January 29, and

2) The banks receive the funds on or before February 28.

The Board unanimously ratified the offer at a special meeting last night.

Our best offer announced over two weeks ago was $ 4 million. This consisted of a bridge loan based on the pledges received from the Save Our Station campaign and the matching gifts they generated from the Caterpillar Foundation and other matching gift companies, a $2 million mortgage funded by National City Bank and the Illinois Facilities Fund, and cash on hand. Over the past week we have been notified by a few anonymous private donors in the region that they would make significant pledges to save WTVP. This brought our total available to $4.8 million. This gave the Board the comfort to accept the bank’s deal because every indication was that it was as good as it would get. That means we have 30 days to raise the remaining $450,000 in cash.

At its meeting last night, our Board committed to identifying and raising that money so that public television will remain in Central Illinois. We will be on air again asking those who have not contributed to do so now. We will be making personal approaches to both corporate and individual contributors, and we will make every effort to leave no rock unturned in search of the remaining needed funding.

I am confident that we will be able to meet this goal.

Thank you.

Chet Tomczyk
President & CEO

 


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

No deal … yet. Work continues on crafting a deal with Bank of America and Commerce Bank that will save WTVP and keep Central Illinois’ public television station operational for a long time to come.

The banks have indicated a generous movement that could allow the station to pay off the amount due. Simultaneously, WTVP has received three very generous indications of support from local donors. These two factors combined leave a gap of about $500,000 that has to be filled.

We will continue to beat the bushes for this additional money. We are desperately seeking a few more large donors, and are hoping that someone that we don’t already know about will step to the fore.

While we don’t have a deal in place, we have, for the first time in a long while, some real reason for optimism. If you can help with a pledge large or small, please call (309) 495-0555 or pledge online right now us [Click Here]. With your help, we can save the station, and soon.

A few inquiries have been made following an article that appeared last week about the level of participation by our Board members. I am pleased to tell you that the WTVP Board is fully committed and, in addition to their Minds Matter pledges for operations, have pledged in excess of $360,000 toward the campaign.

Thank you.

Chet Tomczyk
President & CEO

 


Friday, January 18, 2008

As has been reported, Bank of America indicated that it would file a petition for receivership on Friday. This was to protect the banks’ interest in the station’s real estate and personal property, that is, the equipment. We are waiting to see if that happened and what it means.

Meanwhile, the banks have indicated that they would accept $6 million payment against the $6.9 million owed as a means of settling the issue. We are pleased with the movement, but it is still $2 million away from what we have been able to assemble so far.

The banks have indicated that they would like to see WTVP continue broadcasting as long as our cash holds out -- that could be a matter of just a few weeks, but it is something. They have asked that we present a good faith plan for trying to raise the additional amount from corporate and other large and small donors. Our Board of Trustees will meet early next week to consider the feasibility of such a plan, and will undoubtedly do what they can to keep WTVP on air for Central Illinois.

Meanwhile to stretch the cash and to stay on air as long as we can, we are cutting what we can. One casualty of this effort to preserve cash is the February program guide. We will not publish a paper version next month but the information and listings will be online [Click here for Listings]. We will also ask local libraries to print copies for posting on their bulletin boards.

Meanwhile, cash is king, as they say. Since we have a number we are shooting for, your pledge is increasingly and desperately important. Please make your pledge to save WTVP now [right here], or by calling (309) 495-0555. Your pledge will not be payable before March and only if we can conclude a deal that keeps WTVP on air.

Thank you.

Chet Tomczyk
President & CEO

 


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Well today is January 15, 2008, and our forbearance period on the long term financing has come to an end without favorable resolution. As we have not yet received any directives to close down, we will continue operating on a day-to-day basis until otherwise notified or until our cash runs out.

As has been widely reported, our last offer of $4 million to settle the issue was turned down by Bank of America. Unless some unknown, unheralded angel comes riding along very soon, there is nothing more that we have to offer.

All morning long our phone lines have been burning with messages of hope and support, ideas for raising more cash, legal opinions, and expressions of disbelief that we have come to this. We are grateful for all, and continue pursuing many of the ideas presented in the time available.

From a practical standpoint, our ability to stay on air very long is compromised by dwindling amounts of operating cash. As directed by our Board of Trustees, we have not sought membership and general support dollars through December until now, because we feel it would be unethical to do so. To ask you to send in membership contributions for the coming year when we could not be sure that we would be here for you just didn’t wash. We are using what savings we have to cover costs, and when those are gone, practicably so are we.

This situation is especially hard on our staff who continues to work professionally and diligently despite the uncertainties of the situation. That they are committed to public broadcasting and their dedication to serving the community is undeniable. They have my respect and gratitude.

Stay tuned. We will be here as long as we can, and I will update you on any developments or progress.

Chet Tomczyk
President & CEO

 


Monday, January 14, 2008

Chet Tomczyk, President & CEO of WTVP-TV, announced today that Bank of America and Commerce Bank rejected a second and final offer made late last week to restructure an approximate $6.9 million of outstanding long-term debt and keep WTVP, public television for Central Illinois, operating.

“We made a $4 million offer, the most we could muster based on results of Save Our Station campaign and a mortgage that would be available from National City Bank and the Illinois Facilities Fund. The banks apparently found the offer to be inadequate," Tomczyk said.

Bank of America and Commerce Bank communicated verbally to WTVP’s restructuring consultant, Silverman & Associates, that they will likely appoint an assignee to handle the orderly transfer of assets while looking for buyers for the WTVP building and equipment. The station has received no communication requiring it to terminate operations on January 15.

Tomczyk indicated that there was a faint glimmer of hope. “We need a $2 million angel right now,” he said. "We are that amount different between what the banks said they would accept and what we have available to pay. For an immediate $2 million, we would put the person or company’s name on the building if they wished, but what a terrific legacy that would leave to Central Illinois.”

To express community support for WTVP, we offer the following contact information.

 

Bank of America – Corporate

Kenneth D. Lewis

Chairman, CEO and President

Bank of America

100 N. Tryon Street

Charlotte NC 28255-0001

1-(704)-386-5681

1-(704)-386-6669 fax

[click here] to Email Bank of America

Commerce Bank – Corporate

David W. Kemper

Chairman of the Board,

President and Chief Executive Officer

Commerce Bancshares

1000 Walnut

P.O. Box 419248

Kansas City, MO 64141-6248

1-(816)-234-2000

www.commercebank.com

 

Bank of America - Local

Commercial Banking

230 SW Adams St

Suite 501

Peoria IL 61602

(309) 680-4380

Commerce Bank - Local

Mr. Brent Eichelberger, President

Commerce Bank

416 N. Main Street

Peoria IL 61602

(309) 676-1311

Brent.eichelberger@commercebank.com

 

Save Our Station

 

WTVP 47-Public Television, is in danger of "going dark" – meaning that PBS programming will no longer be broadcast to Central Illinois and the entire local station will cease to exist. How can this be? Bank of America, holder of the annually-renewable letter of credit that financed the station’s 22-year bond issue, has "called the loan" and millions of dollars must be paid by January 15, 2008.

Unless the payment is made or a mutually agreeable restructuring of the debt is achieved, Bank of America will seize WTVP and all its assets. If that comes to pass, the bank has indicated that it will sell WTVP, all or piecemeal, to the highest bidder in order to recoup costs.

To date, all attempts at restructuring the debt have been unsuccessful. However, restructuring efforts do continue, and station officials are exploring every feasible financing option.

To provide WTVP’s Board of Directors with the resources necessary to restructure the financing and keep the station on air, we are asking you to make a pledge of support to save the station.

Our goal is to raise as many pledges as possible by the end of December 2007. WTVP will use these pledges to demonstrate to the banks the long-term viability of WTVP and to enhance our borrowing capacity. This will allow the station to make the best offer we can to Bank of America and Commerce Bank in the hopes of saving our station.

We are not asking for cash, but rather single- and multiple-year pledges of support.

Pledges made before January 30th will be not payable before March 1 2008, and will only come due if a suitable restructured arrangement is accomplished. After January 30th, donors have the option of allowing WTVP to process their contribution immediately. If the banks accept the offer, WTVP will collect on the pledges; if not, then the station has been advised that they will not be legally binding.

 

 

 

Additional Information

 
 
 

History of the Issue

Frequently Asked Questions

Save Our Station Testimonials

 

Video

SOS Final Offer Spot

WTVP Save Our Station
Final Offer Spot


"At Issue" #2016
 Topic: WTVP Save Our Station
 Air Date: 12/20/07
 Length: 24 min. 30 sec.


WTVP Save Our Station Press Conference - Background Information


WTVP Save Our Station Press Conference - Current Situation


WTVP Save Our Station Press Conference - SOS Campaign Announcement


[Click here for more video]

 

 

HOME | Support WTVP | TV Schedule | Programming | Station EventsProduction ServicesAbout WTVP

Shop PBS | PBS.org | PBS Kids  | PBS Kids Go  | PBS Parents | PBS Teachers

WTVP 47 · 101 State Street, Peoria, Illinois 61602-1547 (309)677-4747
WTVP & WTVP.org, Public Media for Central Illinois
© 1995-2014 Illinois Valley Public Telecommunications Corporation