Deal to Sell PTL Network to Oral Roberts Univ. Told
A court-appointed trustee says he will sell Jim Bakker’s former satellite network to Oral Roberts University for $6 million at the end of the month unless he finds a buyer for the entire PTL complex.
“I do have a firm deal with Oral Roberts University. However, in the contract, I expressly reserved the right to sell all the assets until the point of approval of the sale of just the network,” the trustee, lawyer Dennis Shedd, said last week.
The 500-acre Heritage USA Christian retreat founded by Bakker and 1,700 acres of undeveloped PTL land in South Carolina have been for sale along with PTL’s broadcasting holdings since 1988.
The Roberts ministry has been plagued by tight finances in the last few years.
In September, Oral Roberts, a 72-year-old faith healer, closed his City of Faith hospital and medical school in Tulsa, Okla., and put his home and other ministry-owned property on the market to repay $25 million in debts.
Roberts’ son, Richard, said God told his father, “in what my dad believes is his last major charge from God, to create a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week global Christian, charismatic healing network.”
Richard Roberts said the university raised the $1 million down payment from longtime backers.
Mark Swadener, chief financial officer for the ministries, said he thought the network could provide a vital source of revenue for the university. He called the plan to purchase the network “an act of faith.”
The ministry also was seeking guaranteed access to the airwaves at a time when secular networks are displacing evangelists on Sunday mornings in favor of news shows and cartoons.
Bakker was convicted last fall of fraudulently raising $158 million from PTL contributors and is serving a 45-year prison sentence in a federal prison in Minnesota.