THOUSANDS of small investors have been stung following the appointment of a receiver to a community-run television company which tried to set up a digital service.
Bank of Scotland (Ireland) has appointed Barry Donohue of KPMG as receiver and manager of SCTV Digital, with its registered address at Enterprise House, Ballinrea Road, Carrigaline, Co Cork.
The move has left an estimated 10,500 subscribers across south and north Cork, and parts of Kerry, Tipperary and Waterford, without a TV service.
But thousands of subscribers who invested anything between €300 and €900, and in some cases up to €10,000 in company shares to help fund its planned roll-out of a digital service from 2004, are expected to lose their investments.
Mr Donohue was not available for comment yesterday, but it is understood he is seeking a buyer.
South Coast TV, which was run by volunteers since 1985, beamed an analogue service into some 23,000 homes at its peak.
It brought a landmark case against Anthony O’Reilly’s Princes Holdings in the 1990s – a civil case which set a record at the time after spending 13 weeks in the High Court.
In recent years, the company lost subscribers through competition from Sky and Chorus and had just over 10,500 subscribers in recent years.
In 2004, SCTV was given a licence by the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) to broadcast a digital TV service across Munster.
The company said at the time that it planned to take on Sky and Chorus and invest between €6 million and €8m in the new service which was developed by a French Company, MDS International.
It sought investment from its members and raised just over €1m. However, the board turned down an offer of a €2.5m investment from a single investor because it felt he was seeking too high a stake in the company.
This decision was to prove fatal.
The company’s initial 60-channel digital package, was never fully rolled-out. Some subscribers who invested in 2006 only got their digital service last year.
In 2009, the company’s secretary was Michael O’Sullivan, and its directors were listed as Michael Wall, and brothers John Hurley, Liam Hurley, and Thomas Hurley.
They have all been involved in the company since its foundation.
The company website has been taken down and its phone was not answered yesterday.
Subscribers are getting an on-screen message saying that premium channels have been discontinued and that broadcasting of the free-to-air Irish and British channels will continue for a few more days to allow them transfer to a new service provider.
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