It was just about a year ago that the partly state-funded, golf television station the Back9Network filed for bankruptcy. Since then, it has re-emerged as a smaller enterprise -- this time not as a lifestyle and entertainment network, but as a mobile golf app.
The Back9Network was supposed to be a celebrity-driven, sexy-talking, approachable cable channel for people who didn’t just want golf in their lives, but wanted a golf lifestyle. But it didn't work.
“We just couldn’t get it up on the air as fast as we wanted to,” said former Back9 executive Charles Cox. He said the company went into bankruptcy with millions in debt -- roughly $5 million of which was owed to the state.
It's coming out of bankruptcy as Swing By Swing -- a new company with new investors and a smaller mission.
The company said the state is slated to get its full investment back over time. Additionally, trade creditors will get roughly 15 cents on the dollar back and a stake in Swing By Swing going forward, and other investors get a stake going forward, too.
“It is a smaller operation, but I think we’re projecting that we’ll be able to pay off the state of Connecticut loan and give them a return on their investment,” said Cox.
“There is always risk and certainly in startup businesses that risk is amplified. And that’s exactly the type of business that Back9 was,” said George Norfleet, director of Connecticut's Office of Film, Television, and Digital Media.
Norfleet said Swing By Swing has more realistic aspirations. Instead of being a big broadcast network, it will be a golf smartphone app, with some online content and an e-newsletter, for now.
“We negotiated ourselves to be in the position so that if something like this were to happen -- unfortunately it did -- that we would be in the position to try to protect the taxpayers," said Norfleet. "I think that we’ve been able to execute on that.”
Not everyone is pleased.
Investors William and Janet Ghio are still pursuing a claim arguing that they were misled into investing $860,000 into Back9.