Mykalai Kontilai, the businessman who bought the 31-year old PBS-distributed "Nightly Business Report" in August, has big plans for the program, including negotiations for a daily radio show and talks to distribute the program into almost 200 countries, reports one of the best journalists we know, former TVWeek contributor Elizabeth Jensen in the New York Times.
But the experience of some of his former business partners — some of whom claim unpaid debts — raise some questions about whether his new project will run into some of the same problems, Jensen writes.
Kontilai, 41, who was born Michael Contile but changed his name in 1998 to represent its Italian phonetic pronunciation, left unpaid debts when he closed his Mykalai Kontilai Companies, the story says.
One company, AGC/United Learning, sued him in 2000, alleging fraud and claiming damages of $250,000, and in a settlement, Kontilai agreed to leave the instructional programming business, the article notes, citing AGC/United Learning former president Ronald E. Reed. Kontilai said he made full payment to AGC under the settlement and that there was "absolutely no stipulation that I would leave the business."
The article cites other previous business disputes, and says that some public television executives who have previously dealt with Kontilai have called WPBT’s president with concerns. WPBT sold the "Nightly Business Report" to Kontilai and his backers.