Reeling radio giant iHeartMedia has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, saying it has reached an agreement with creditors to restructure $20 billion in debt.
The bankruptcy filing lists total assets of $12.3B, on a consolidated basis, with total debts of $20.3B.
While the Bob Pittman-led media company tried to position itself as a multi-platform entity with strength in social media, its heartbeat and profit center remained its portfolio of 850 radio stations across the country. The radio unit, iHeartRadio, is owned by the larger iHeartMedia, which has a mix of other assets spanning outdoor advertising and digital. iHeart was formed from assets remaining from Clear Channel, the radio behemoth that flew high but crashed hard after rolling up hundreds of radio stations in the 1990s and 2000s.
As streaming services like Spotify and Pandora have become dominant music players, iHeart has struggled. Late last year, the company saw an earlier pitch to creditors get rebuffed. About three-quarters of the company is owned by private equity investors including Bain Capital, Thomas H. Lee Partners, Highfields Capital Management and Abrams Capital Management.
Pittman, a noted media exec who was one of the early overseers of MTV before moving to roles at AOL and Time Warner, said the bankruptcy filing “allows us to definitively address the more than $20 billion in debt that has burdened our capital structure.”