Nustar TV Goes Black; Firm Turns to Chapter 11

Times Staff Writer

Nustar Television Network prophetically started broadcasting on a Friday the 13th last year from an office in Tujunga with a collection of programs that included “Date Who We Tell You,” “Hollywood Asylum” and “Garage Sale for the Rich and Eccentric.”

Now its luck has just about run out. The fledging satellite broadcasting network, aimed at UHF television stations and owners of satellite dish antennas, is no longer on the air and has filed for protection from creditors under Chapter 11 of the U. S. Bankruptcy Code.

In its Chapter 11 petition filed Sept. 11, Nustar, which earlier this year moved its corporate office from Tujunga to Pasadena, lists $1.98 million in debts to creditors and only $74,100 in assets.


Still, its bankruptcy attorney, Richard R. Hopkins, predicts that the company will successfully reorganize and one day be back on the air. He said the company is formulating a plan to offer stock to creditors to relieve its debts--a strategy that he said would help the company attract investors.

Hopkins said the company got in over its head through a contract with American Satellite Co., a Rockville, Md.-based company that provided Nustar with a satellite link. More than half of its debt, or about $1.03 million, is owed to American Satellite.

Youthful Chairman

Nustar began broadcasting in June, 1986, holding a catered party at which its executives unabashedly predicted the company would someday become a fourth network.

At the time, the chairman was Peter O’Neil, a 23-year-old who boasted of having once been an assistant to Al Davis, the Los Angeles Raiders’ managing general partner. One top Raiders official later said O’Neil worked part-time for the team as a gofer, but that he was never an assistant to Davis.

O’Neil could not be reached for comment.

The company has been secretive about its finances. It went public by merging with a shell corporation in Utah, and at one time had 46 million shares of stock outstanding, of which 8 million traded publicly. Hopkins said the company is still public, but that he does not know at what price the stock trades.

Within two months after it started broadcasting, the company cut back its air time to four hours a day, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., and earlier this year went off the air completely.


The Federal Communications Commission fined Nustar $6,000 for broadcasting without a license, although Nustar executives insisted that the amount was only $5,000. Both sides said the problem stemmed from Nustar’s use of a rented transmitter that was unlicensed.