Radio giant iHeartMedia files bankruptcy plan, expects to operate as usual

Radio giant iHeartMedia files bankruptcy plan, expects to operate as usual

TORONTO — IHeartMedia, which has a Canadian partnership with Bell Media, says it’s operating as usual while working on a plan to reduce its debt by US$10 billion while under bankruptcy court protection from its creditors.

Among its branding partners is Bell Media, which owns Canada’s largest private-sector radio network as well as the CTV network, conventional local television stations and specialty TV channels including the music-oriented Much.

IHeartMedia announced late Wednesday that it would seek Chapter 11 protection under U.S. bankruptcy law but exclude its Clear Channel Outdoor billboard subsidiary from the proceedings.

Based in San Antonio, iHeartMedia operates 858 broadcast radio stations in more than 150 markets around the U.S. It also runs big live events such as the iHeartRadio Music awards.

Though iHeartMedia has a large online presence and its iHeartRadio app is popular for streaming music, it faces stiff competition from Spotify, Apple Music and other online streaming services.

Still, the reason for the company’s financial problems is primarily its massive debt, which it amassed when private equity firms Thomas H. Lee Partners and Bain Capital led a buyback of publicly held shares in 2008.

IHeartMedia warned as early as in 2016 that it had reached an impasse with lenders.

— with files from The Associated Press

The Canadian Press

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