If you don’t have a sense of humor do not read this

The sad story of the other TV station

From court papers it is evident that if the rent amounted to Awg 15,000 a month, Channel 15 has not been paying it for ten years?! How is that possible that the owners of Royal Plaza, a set of savvy business people had allowed squatters in their building for all that time?

What exactly happened here?

Why didn’t they move on a payment plan, and/or eviction nine years ago?

ABC Aruba Broadcasting Company NV had been operating for 19 years at the same location, the third floor of Royal Plaza in Oranjestad and according to my understanding in 2005 financial problems reared their ugly head and because of meager financial means their rent payments became inconsistent and infrequent.

I heard there was some kind of barter deal, TV adz against outstanding rent, but that was never formalized and put in writing.

Then one and a half year ago, Royal Plaza NV started a “Pay Me What You Owe Me” court case represented by Attorney Oorman. Some letter exchanges have been made public, and when Royal Plaza lawyered up the debt was around Awg 1.6 million, and recently reached Awg 1.8.

How does that happen?

Improper management.

Inept leadership.

Lack of financial controls.

And sadly the inability to collect from deadbeat advertising agencies, which place spots, but then drag their heels on settling their own bills.

Some past shareholder confided in me that they have never seen a PNL, and they just instructed their accountant to write the debt off at the end of each year. Another one told me, in response to a question: I don’t have a copy of the shareholders’ register of ATV. I happen to be a shareholder and there are some other families who have also contributed to the share capital. However I believe that like myself they are not eager to get involved in any publicity in these difficult times that ATV is facing.

ATV started with great fanfare, professional training, shiny equipment and excellent staffers and over time lost steam, with Patrick Paskel’s famous AaaTeeeVee, the only remaining constant. They also lost their live transmission truck, which further incapacitated them!

The original shareholders, some of our community’s most successful business people, opted out over the years, perhaps leaving the station to its director Tom Pietersz, and some members of the Eman family – this is speculation – a very likable bunch with an assortment of great hobbies, such as car racing and competitive swimming. They are more passionate about their hobbies than about their businesses. The EMCO building if renovated could have served as the new ATV headquarters, had the station moved out of its current digs, but nothing was done to address the building crisis.

Tessa Pietersz will survive by cleverly moving her Trend Alert program on line.

The others?

I feel sorry for my media colleagues, for having lost their jobs. And they are in the dark, since no one spoke to them about the situation. There has been zero communication all along. But, they should have known something was terribly wrong by the inconsistent and infrequent way they were getting paid in recent months.

What’s next?

A bankruptcy. One of my lawyer friends predicts a bankruptcy, and the opening of another company, under a different name with the same purpose.

Because, you cannot conduct an election campaign without a TV station, and you know elections are coming in 2017. If truth be told you can run a TV station from your garage, there is no need to rent a big space with today’s technology.

One of my other friends said they might find some nice Venezuelan businessman who will “buy” the station or “partner” with owners or “loan” them the money they owe, to secure the essential 2017 campaign propaganda vehicle.

What’s in it for the “investor”?

Terrain? Beachfront land for development?! A mega supply agreement with the CITGO facility? Free adz till the end of time? Free access to government ministers till the end of time? Free work permits till the end of time? Free liver or kidney transplants? University educations to all extended family members, and their neighbors? Free Dutch passports and the ability to live in 27 EU countries, all except Great Britain.

I don’t like the above scenario, so if all of us contribute just Awg 15 per person we could bail ATV out, and make sure it doesn’t fall into hostile hands. I would really be unhappy if I had to watch Nicolas Maduro on TV every Sunday, just before American Ninja Warrior.