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TVNZ interested in Alt TV after collapse
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Post TVNZ interested in Alt TV after collapse - 04-April-2009, 19:17

The collapse of the grungy party channel Alt TV has left creditors with a mighty big hangover.

In their first report released last week, liquidators Harris Neil have revealed a shortfall of assets over liabilities of "at least" $3 million on March 18. Directors for Alt TV are founders Thane Kirby and Ricky Newby.

Both men are also directors of a "sister company" (09) Holdings Limited (in liquidation) with $233,897 of liabilities and no assets.

Television New Zealand is understood to be interested in buying the Alt TV brand to start the channel anew on the Freeview digital platform.

A youth music channel would make sense for TVNZ, helping them to pick up younger people who are boosting viewership for MediaWorks' C4.

Creditors will be relieved the hip and groovy channel is facing the music and no longer losing money.

But it is doubtful there will be much dancing over Alt TV's grave.

Creditors - including Inland Revenue - are clearing away the financial dregs of the channel that was on air for four years and stopped trading on March 6.
A secured creditor - the channel's financier Easy Factors - is owed $1.8 million. Liquidator Anthony Harris said prospects for a dividend being paid to unsecured creditors owed $1.36 million were "remote".

The liquidators' report listed 19 known creditors. Among them are Sky TV, state-owned Kordia, the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, AC Nielsen, and the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand, believed to be related to unpaid music royalties.


This column reported problems on January 23, when the four shareholders Thane Kirby, Ricky Newby, Oliver Driver and David Kennedy passed shares to a company controlled by Easy Factors.

Easy Factors approached staff to try and turn the company around in one month, but without success.

Kirby - who moved the channel from a weak free-to-air Auckland frequency on to the Sky digital platform - insisted in January the channel was sound and there were no financial issues relating to the owners' exit.

But the liquidators' report to March 18 said Alt TV had faced "substantial and consistent losses". In January, Driver explained his cutting his ties to the alternative Sky channel, saying: "We are proceeding down a certain path which we are quite confident will deliver a good outcome."

The fourth shareholder, David Kennedy, is a former senior executive with Sky City Entertainment.


Regional television campaigner and Triangle Television boss Jim Blackman is disappointed the non-profit trust had to stem losses and close the Wellington operation on Wednesday.

But Blackman is confident it made the right decision pulling out now - after three years on air - rather than waiting.

The wider downturn in the media economy was a deciding factor, he

"We looked ahead to the next 12-18 months and decided it was best to pull out," he said.

At $20,000 a month for transmission, the regional Wellington channel was low-cost but Blackman was sceptical that it could be revived after previous unsuccessful attempts and Triangle problems.

He said that the digital channel TriangleStratos - which screens on Freeview satellite and Sky TV and TelstraClear cable in Wellington - would continue to provide popular Triangle shows such as PBS News Hour.

Blackman said that Triangle television in Auckland was being hurt but was fine in the new environment.
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