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Plum’s Growing with New $20M

12/21/2006 6:56 AM Eastern

Plum TV -- the private network targeting the super-rich in resort locales like Aspen, Colo., and Martha’s Vineyard, Mass. -- ingested $20 million in new funding from well-heeled equity funds and individuals such as Tom Freston, football legend Nick Buoniconti and singer Jimmy Buffett.

The cash will fund expansion into Sun Valley, Idaho, and Miami Beach, Fla., and new programming development, the New York-based programmer said.

The Kraft Group and The Raptor Fund led the investment round, with participation from Ackerley Partners and an investment from The Pilot Group, led by former AOL president Robert Pittman.

The calculatedly cool investor list includes Island Records founder Chris Blackwell, Virgin Records chairman Jason Flom, fashionistas Andy and Kate Spade and Starwood Hotels founder Barry Sternlicht, in addition to former Viacom CEO Freston, ex-Miami Dolphins star Buoniconti and “Parrothead” rocker Buffett.

Plum secured cable distribution in Miami Beach on Atlantic Broadband -- essentially a leased-access arrangement for a 24-hour channel expected to launch in the spring, the companies said.

Plum also agreed to buy two television stations (KSVX and KSVT) in Sun Valley. The stations are being acquired as assets of E-Da-Hoe. Federal Communications Commission consent is required and expected in 2007.

Plum is currently seen in Aspen, Vail and Telluride, Colo.; Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, Mass.; and in Long Island’s Hamptons area in New York.

Programs include CEO interviews, a reality show about actor Bob Balaban building his dream house in Bridgehampton, N.Y., and local-events coverage via each system’s morning show.

President Chris Glowacki said the network’s business model goes well with cable. “We have tremendous relationships with our cable partners,” which include Comcast in New England and Colorado, Cablevision Systems in New York and will include Cox Communications in Sun Valley, he said.

“We’re among their highest rated services, we’re exclusive, we’re not on satellite [and] we’re very much treasured in our communities,” he added. In addition to leased channels, Plum has some retransmission carriage of local broadcast outlets, he said.

Plum programming is also available on demand in about 1 million Comcast digital homes throughout New England, Glowacki said.

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