It’s probably not what the new owners of Plum TV had in mind when they announced their reemergence in the Aspen market at the beginning of the winter.
After a season broadcasting out of Snowmass Base Village, the company has abandoned its studio office, and the network’s local channel — channel 16 on the cable dial — is showing only a still image. On display 24 hours a day at the network that promoted itself as featuring the lifestyles of the privileged is a picture of wine being poured into fine stemware.
Plum representatives did not return calls and emails seeking comment, but the network folded its tent in Snowmass at the end of the ski season, according Steve Alldredge, spokesman for Related Colorado, which was Plum’s landlord in Base Village.
“They suddenly announced to us that there was a corporate decision to reorganize once again,” Alldredge said.
Plum was launched in 2004 with stations in resort markets from Nantucket to Aspen. Until last winter, it produced a seasonal live morning show from the top of Aspen Mountain, giving the town a sneak peak at ski conditions and covering the resort’s events.
The network went into bankruptcy in early 2012, and was purchased by former MTV executives Joseph Varet and Morgan Hertzan. The new owners were in discussions leading into the summer of 2012 with a local production company — operated by former Plum TV employees, including former station manager David Cook — that would have continued live, local programming on the channel. However, those negotiations fell through, and Plum spent the summer of 2012 looping previously recorded programming from its various stations.
Following the breakdown with Plum, Cook and producer Spencer McKnight endeavored to launch their own TV station — Aspen 82 on channel 82 — and began lobbying the Aspen Skiing Co. for the broadcast rights to Aspen Mountain. They secured those rights as the 2012-13 ski season began, giving them the only live TV programming from the ski slopes. Aspen 82 plans to return with more local content this summer.
As Aspen 82 took over its former morning show, Plum entered the deal with Related, which is the developer behind the stalled Snowmass Base Village. Per the agreement, Plum received use of the Base Village space in exchange for producing content and promotional videos related to Snowmass and the effort to sell condos at the Viceroy residences. In a December announcement, Plum said it would produce locally focused “extensive lifestyle coverage” and it hired former Plum TV host Ramona Bruland to host a pre-recorded morning show.
Bruland, who was hired last year as a host for ESPN’s X Games, said last week she recorded a number of features for Plum through January, but hadn’t worked with them since.
Since taking over Plum, the new owners have been expanding into metropolitan markets, including Boston, Philadelphia and Los Angeles. The company also ceased operations earlier this month at its station in The Hamptons, the resort area on New York’s Long Island, according to local media reports there.
Alldredge, the Related spokesman, speculated that the company was changing its business model from resort focused to something else.
“We heard they are doing a completely different form of programming,” he said.