New owners, direction for Plum TV
ASPEN – Plum TV, which operates Channel 16 in Aspen, has been purchased by a pair of media executives who plan to expand the brand into a national network.
Joseph Varet and Morgan Hertzan announced Wednesday that they have an agreement to buy Plum TV Inc. following a bankruptcy auction in New York. Varet and Hertzan are co-founders of LXTV, which produces and distributes lifestyle entertainment television, online video and out-of-home programming: LXTV is now owned by NBCUniversal.
“Our intent with Plum is to grow it, to make it bigger and better,” Hertzan said from his New York office. “Aspen is not just a place where people live. It’s a brand.
“We think mountain towns like Aspen have a lot to offer viewers not only there but across the country.”
Plum currently operates in eight resort markets – Aspen, Vail, Telluride, Sun Valley, Idaho, Miami Beach, Fla., Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket in Massachusetts and the Hamptons, N.Y. Its stations have traditionally had an emphasis on tourism and leisure programming.
Under the leadership of Varet and Hertzan, who will serve as co-presidents, Plum will “continue the network’s programming focus on home, travel, food and wellness,” Hertzan said. The network will expand to include distribution across the country via digital, television and out-of-home media.
“We have many exciting programming plans for Plum, which we will announce in the coming weeks and months,” Hertzan said.
Aspen-based David Cook, general manager for Plum’s mountain region, said he remains employed by Plum but had no further comment.
Plum founder and Chairman Tom Scott offered this statement: “We are excited to be in business with Joseph and Morgan. We love their passion and experience, and we believe in their vision for Plum. This journey has been both exhilarating and trying.
“I’ve been lucky to have worked with some incredible people. At the same time, I look forward to the great future of Plum with Joseph and Morgan.”
Plum was live on the air in Aspen on Wednesday. The fate of a proposed Plum magazine, which was expected to launch this summer, is uncertain, according to Hertzan, who is a veteran of television production in Colorado, having developed programming for MTV in Vail and Breckenridge, among other resorts.
Wednesday’s announcement came two months after Plum TV Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. According to the filing with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court’s Southern District of New York, Plum TV Inc. had estimated assets of between $1 million and $10 million, with estimated liabilities of between $10 million and $50 million. Bloomberg reported that the Bronx, N.Y.-based company had assets of $8.6 million, with liabilities totaling $19 million. Revenue for 2011 was estimated at $6.4 million, resulting in an $8.4 million net loss.
In September, Plum announced a wave of massive layoffs nationwide, including all but two positions in Aspen. That move came less than a week after then-CEO Jerry Powers resigned, citing financial issues, and was replaced by Scott.
“We are looking forward to moving forward,” Hertzan said. “Plum Aspen will still be on the air, and the hope is it’s just going to get better.”
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