Plum gets $20 mil for tony TV plan

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Plum, a small company that is building out TV networks in some of the country's richest neighborhoods, said Thursday that it has raised $20 million in a financing round that included entertainers and former top entertainment executives.

Leading the round were the Kraft Group and the Raptor Fund. Also investing were Ackerly Partners and the Pilot Group, headed by former AOL president Robert Pittman.

Individual investors included singer Jimmy Buffett, former Viacom CEO Tom Freston, NFL Hall of Fame linebacker Nick Buoniconti, Virgin Records chairman and CEO Jason Flom and Island Records and Palm Pictures founder Chris Blackwell.

The fashion industry's Kate and Jack Spade and Starwood Capital Group CEO Barry Sternlicht also invested. Previous investors include film producer Lawrence Gordon and Loews Hotels CEO Jonathan Tisch.

Plum produces TV shows in and about the high-end, resort communities its TV stations serve: Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts, the Hamptons in New York and Vail, Aspen and Telluride in Colorado.

The company will use the $20 million in part to expand into Sun Valley, Idaho, where it already has purchased stations, and Miami Beach, where it has cable TV carriage agreements.

The company's goal is to be in 20 markets, CEO Tom Scott said. On the radar screen are Napa and the Monterey Peninsula in California and Jackson Hole, Wyo.

Scott said the company, which employs 105 people, delivers about eight hours of original programming to each market it serves. Plum's potential market is 10 million viewers so far. "Obviously, a lot of them are people with money and influence," he said.

The company is set Saturday to relaunch its Web site, PlumTV.com, which disseminates such information as where are the best ski runs, art and architecture in each of the markets Plum serves.

"The most exciting part is their Internet strategy," said Blackwell, whose Palm Pictures already has done business with Plum.

"I love the idea of Plum," Blackwell said, "the fact that they focus on small but extremely influential markets."
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