National Iranian Television News Inc., the Woodland Hills broadcaster that came to national attention last year for its anti-government broadcasts in advance of the anniversary of large student protests in Iran, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
“The financial situation was getting out of hand,” said Richard Dodson, a sole practitioner representing NITV, a Farsi-language network. “There were some creditors who were not leaving the company alone. Creditors were starting proceedings against property of the company.”
In its Oct. 7 filing, NITV reported assets of $158,702 and debts of $6.4 million.
The company was on the short end of a recent legal battle, which contributed to its need for protection. Earlier this year, it lost a copyright infringement lawsuit by Masood Kalantari, a producer of Iranian TV and cultural events.
Kalantari, who had acquired exclusive North American broadcast rights to three Farsi-language films from their Iranian owners, sued NITV, claiming that the network had broadcast them without paying him licensing fees. The claim was rejected by a lower court, but a 9th Circuit Court of Appeal panel ruling reversed the decision.
“They did pay us damages and there was a order issued by the court to cease from infringing our copyrights and return the pirated tapes to us,” said Ali Kamarei, the attorney representing Kalantari. “The settlement was six figures.”
Zia Atabay, the Iranian-born former pop musician who founded NITV in 2000, did not return calls.
Dodson said the network, which broadcasts to North America, Europe and the Middle East via satellite, would not interrupt its schedule of broadcasting Iranian and Iranian-American news, movies and talk shows during the reorganization.
“We don’t expect the bankruptcy to interrupt operations at all,” Dodson said last week. “Approximately 60 days from now, we’ll submit our reorganization plan that will deal with cash flow, anticipated income, etc., for the creditors to vote on. If they don’t approve it, we go back to the drawing board. If the company goes down the tubes, they won’t get anything.”