October 5, 2016 at 10:48 am EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Gay media company files bankruptcy petition
Frontiers Magazine, gay news, Washington Blade

Frontiers magazine in Los Angeles is one of several titles now in jeopardy following the bankruptcy of its parent company.

A Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based company that has described itself as the “world’s largest LGBT media conglomerate” filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Tuesday before the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Florida.

Multimedia Platforms Worldwide states in its bankruptcy petition that its estimated assets are less than $50,000 and its estimated liabilities exceed $1 million and could be as much as $10 million.

The publicly traded company owns the LGBT newspaper Florida Agenda in Fort Lauderdale and in recent years acquired LGBT newspapers and magazines in Florida, Los Angles and New York. Earlier this year it announced it had launched a “global” LGBT website.

The bankruptcy filing comes just under two weeks after its largest creditor filed a lawsuit against Multimedia Platforms in Boston, accusing it of defaulting on a $1.75 million loan agreement and engaging in “fraudulent” and “negligent” misrepresentations in the information it provided to secure the loan.

The creditor, White Winston Select Asset Funds LLC of Boston, requested and received from a Suffolk County, Mass., Superior Court judge a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction seizing all of Multimedia Platforms’ assets. The lawsuit shows that the terms of the loan called for Multimedia Platform to put up virtually all of its assets as collateral for the loan.

The company’s CEO, Florida businessman Bobby Blair, told the South Florida Gay News last week that the seizure would prevent it from publishing its various newspapers and magazines and would force it to lay off most of its employees.

South Florida Gay News, which is a competitor to Multimedia Platforms’ Florida Agenda, was the first to break the story about the lawsuit and seizure of Multimedia Platforms’ assets by White Winston. Both newspapers are based in Fort Lauderdale.

The bankruptcy filing, meanwhile, was expected to give Multimedia Platforms a reprieve from the seizure of its assets and its impending default on numerous loans from other creditors based on an “automatic stay” on collection activities brought about by a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing.

“The automatic stay provides a period of time in which all judgments, collection activities, foreclosures, and repossessions of property are suspended and may not be pursued by the creditors on any debt or claim that arose before the filing of the bankruptcy petition,” according to a statement on the website of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.

South Florida Gay News has reported over the past several months that Multimedia Platforms has reported in its own financial statements filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that it was faced with serious and possibly insurmountable financial problems. The company also billed itself as the nation’s only publicly traded LGBT media company.

In a March 31 press release, Multimedia Platforms’ CEO Blair said, “Today, we own five publications encapsulating a readership of nearly 7.5 million, 4.8 million unique visitors annually and over 200,000 social media followers.”

Norman Kent, publisher of South Florida Gay News, said it became clear among those in the know that Multimedia Platforms was underfunded from the start.

“They were living on loans and the loans were called in,” he said.

Representatives of Multimedia Platforms and the company that filed the lawsuit against it, White Winston, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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