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Gillett president: Trouble began with purchase of WTVT

George Gillett says he is at fault for his company's bankruptcy filing, contending the troubles began when he paid too much for WTVT-Ch. 13 in Tampa.

"I caused the problem," said Gillett, president of Gillett Holdings Inc. "It was my error in judgment and timing."

In an interview Tuesday, Gillett said the company's downhill slide began after he purchased WTVT in June 1987 for $385-million, months before the industry went into a recession.

"We were doing well and had been able to turn stations around in other markets," he said. "The deals were happening through mid-1987. When the market started to decline I was shellshocked."

When it filed for bankruptcy court protection last year, Gillett Holdings listed debts of nearly $1-billion.

Throughout the problems, Gillett said his company maintained its dedication to quality.

"Our ratings have grown substantially," he said. "And our share of revenues is even greater than our share of ratings. From a management standpoint, I don't know what else I could have done."