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RAPID CITY - KEVN Inc., parent company of the Rapid City FOX affiliate KEVN-TV, has filed for Chapter 11 protection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Rapid City.

The company's owner filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Thursday, Nov. 20, to fend off legal action by the station's largest creditors, according to a news release from KEVN.

William S. Reyner Jr. of Santa Barbara, Calif., is the president and primary owner of KEVN Inc. His limited liability company, Mission TV, acquired the Rapid City station from USA Broadcasting in 1998.

According to the bankruptcy documents, Finova Capital Corp. of Scottsdale, Ariz., holds $5 million in mortgages and liens on KEVN Inc.'s real estate, building and equipment. It hold most of KEVN's $6.7 million in liabilities. The company listed its assets at $7.3 million.

"While the station is cash-flow positive and is in the strongest position it has been in for the past five years, the lender has accelerated the due date of the repayment of its loan and commenced a proceeding in federal court to take over the operation of the station," KEVN said in its release.

The station stressed that it will be business as usual for KEVN. "Viewers should see no changes in programming or staff during this process, and our advertisers will continue to be provided with the same excellent service," Cindy McNeill, KEVN general manager, said. "This is simply allowing us time to reorganize one debt to one creditor. We hope it won't take long."

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Jon Fisher, general sales manager at KEVN, said Tuesday that the station is in its strongest financial position since 1996, when its previous owner dropped its affiliation with NBC and picked up the FOX Network.

At the time, he said, FOX was an upstart network with a programming lineup that few Black Hills people knew much about. Since then, he said, FOX has become an established network with a full lineup of programming.

KEVN's owner in 1996, Washington-based Blackstar, had financial ties to Fox Broadcasting Co., operator of the FOX Network. Before the switch, KEVN was the strong No. 2 station in Rapid City. The switch from the top-rated NBC opened the market to a third Rapid City station, KNBN. Rapid Broadcasting Inc. of Rapid City acquired a low-power UHF license and the NBC affiliation, going on the air when KEVN made the switch.

USA Broadcasting acquired Blackstar in 1998 and spun off KEVN to Mission TV later that year.

According to the bankruptcy documents, the case will likely continue at least until spring. A meeting of creditors was set for Dec. 22. The deadline to file claims is March 22.

Contact Dan Daly at 394-8421 or dan.daly@rapidcityjournal.com

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