The new business partner of former Los Angeles public television flagship KCET-TV has been whittled down to a tiny operation that’s behind on some of its bills, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Eyetronics Media & Studios, which joined in a partnership with KCET eight months ago, once employed more than 20 people, but now employs just four full-time people and a few part-time employees, the article says.
Four people who have worked for the company said they and others have gone without compensation for as long as six weeks, the story notes. Eyetronics is also reportedly several months late on the rent for its Encino offices, the story says, citing a representative for the landlord.
"Staffing became so thin that an Eyetronics worker created names — a make-believe "sound mixer" and "music supervisor" on one episode — to make the crew for the KCET show ‘Classic Cool Theater’ look more robust, said the sources, most of whom asked not to be named," the piece says.
Eyetronics is run by Dominique Bigle, a onetime Disney executive.
Bigle’s attorney denied some of the claims, noting that "past and current employees have been fully compensated and the company is unaware of any ongoing disputes or claims." The late rent is due to the landlord’s failure to provide security and maintain the building, the attorney said.
KCET board Chairman Channing D. Johnson said, "The financial status of Eyetronics is not relevant to KCET, period. As long as Dominique Bigle delivers the content he has indicated that he will, then we are fine," the story notes.
But it appears that Eyetronics isn’t delivering the content punch that KCET had outlined when it announced the deal, in which Eyetronics was slated to invest $50 million in "original productions, acquisitions and distribution" of shows, the story notes.
KCET left the PBS network on Jan. 1, 2011, after a dispute over what it characterized as excessive dues, the story notes.