iHeart Lenders Asked For 95.3% Of The Company


Much like Cumulus, iHeartMedia has been trying to restructure its massive debt (over $20 billion). And much like Cumulus, it hasn’t been easy. This month there was a little back and forth between iHeartMedia and some of its lenders, but the two sides still seem very far apart.

On November 22, iHeart proposed to its Term Loan Holders $7 billion in new debt giving up 87.5% equity in a recapitalized iHeart and 87.5% ownership of iHeart’s ownership in its Outdoor division. Under iHeart’s proposal, private-equity owners Bain Capital and Thomas H. Lee Partners, would retain 12.5% of the shares in both.

On November 28, the lenders countered with $5.75 billion in new debt with 95.3% equity in a recapitalized iHeart and 100% ownership in iHeart’s piece of the Outdoor company and an option to do a pre-packaged Chapter 11. Under this counter-proposal, the private-equity owners and junior bondholders get 5% of the equity in the radio business.

Stating the obvious, there is no deal and, as the company states in an SEC filing: “There can be no assurance that any agreement will be reached.” The negotiations between the two sides will continue.

iHeart has small amounts of debt due this year and next. In 2019 debt payments jump up to $8.4 billion.

Check out the two proposals HERE


  1. Fear and desperation have distinctive odours.
    But then, people can and do get used to anything.
    Accentuating the positives, especially the obviously constructed ones, only confuses the staffs and moves the timing of an imminent collapse slightly further into a not so distant future.
    Corporate radio has been stagnant for how long?
    Programming has not been able to break out. Their tool kits are empty.
    Sales can’t back up their claims with superior advertising products – even as reach claims are still valid.
    Success stories, while exciting, have been too few.
    Does anybody’s sound effects library have the sfx of golden parachute rip chords being yanked?

  2. I’ll. Stand behind what I stated. Don’t blame the Mays family for making money. I sure didn’t see any smart people at I hearts’. Management. All the real radio people that knew what to do left. This is the B or C team attempting to hang to jobs that are at the height of their career. It’s going down and going fast. A reset is needed. One day the pay checks will bounce and all the protected affirmative action sacred cows will find that the barn is on fire and they really were not that important. Principles of. Business over personalities

  3. Apparently, TheBigA has not been paying attention to my contributions in this space over the last 4 years. Nor is he in a position to make demands of anybody for corroborating evidence. He can do his own homework.
    He is, however, willing to forego the exercise and instead – just make shit up.
    That’s so simplistic and mildly annoying.

    • I didn’t make up the ratings of iHeart stations in the Top 10 markets. You gave no evidence to your statement that iHeart programming is made up of “completely incompetent individuals.” No names, no examples how or why, just personal opinion. That’s what all of your so-called “contributions in this space” consist of. No facts, just opinion. When someone presents you facts, as I have, then you attack that person rather than address the facts. That shows both immaturity and a lack of knowledge of the subject.

      • Attention BigA… the top-rated iHeart stations you mentioned were already top-rated stations under the Mays regime. Those stations have been dominant in their markets for years. Nothing new or innovative on Pittman’s or iHeart’s part, unless you call staging concert venues or putting in voice-tracking at hundreds of stations innovative.

        • Voice tracking was invented in the 90s under the Mays regime. So give credit where its due. It’s not used on their top-rated stations in major markets. But to say it doesn’t take knowledge or skill to KEEP a station at the top through changing music tastes, changes in local talent, and increased competition tells me you’ve never programmed in a major market. A lot of those stations are in the Top 10 nationally for most revenue too. So they’re delivering ratings and revenue. As I said, this is not a programming problem. It’s a financial problem. If anyone is to blame for this situation, it’s the regime that created this debt in the first place. Not the people who’re stuck trying to fix it.

  4. Note to Roy Radio:
    It doesn’t really matter who is shilling for which organization as the realities of the plights of these monstrous organizations (Cumulus and iHeart) are known and obvious.
    As to Mary and Bob: these folks have been shielded from the fact that Programming is made up of completely incompetent individuals who have been working the dogma that was established even before the consolidation wrecks were ever established.
    Both Bob and Mary have been ill-served by people with their own gigs to protect. This situation does not exclude either of them from criticisms as it has still been incumbent on them to, at least, make some serious inquiries.
    I am reminded of the Republicans in the American Senate – out of touch, motivated by personal fears, indebted to questionable contributors and completely missing the attributes to make reasonable decisions on behalf of their constituents.
    As such, TheBigA’s commentaries become annoying and painful bleatings that fail to address the real issues.
    Plus, anonymous trolls lose their credibility well before any has been established.

    • “Programming is made up of completely incompetent individuals”

      Unless you have specifics, that statement sounds like sour grapes from someone who never got very far in radio, and obviously has a negative attitude about the business.

      If you think my comments are painful, you should read your own. They have no credibility, in that you have no real experience in radio. Try getting a real job sometime.

      If you disagree with what I say, post some documented facts that disprove what I say, rather than ignorant generalizations like the one I quoted above.

  5. TheBigA opines: “You look at LA, and four of the Top 5 stations are owned by iHeart. So programming isn’t the problem.”
    On surface, that looks and sounds pretty impressive.
    However, for radio to step out of the bog, that isn’t nearly enough.
    Programming has failed utterly at providing superior services.
    In this presented example, iHeart is at the top of a very low pile.

    • OK, look at the ratings of the Top 10 markets. iHeart has at least one station in the Top 5 in every market except Atlanta, where Cox is king. So 9 of the Top 10. What other company can make that claim?

      My point is this is NOT a programming story. It’s a financial story. And somehow, the bad finances haven’t affected the professionalism of the programmers. They’re still delivering great ratings. That’s what you’d expect of quality programming people.

    • Hi Ronald! Don’t you (and others) wonder as I do, who this “The BigA” person REALLY is, lol! He’s hiding behind that acronym. Do you think it’s Bob Pittman himself? Or more likely, a PR person for Pittman and iHeart/Clear Channel. It is SO OBVIOUS that “The BigA” realizes that iHeart creditors and perhaps others related to the possible/probable iHeart bankruptcy, are reading this trade…that “The BigA” defends iHeart at every step, every time there is a critical observation or comment on here about iHeart. …Attentiin “The BigA”– YOU ARE NOT FOOLING ANYBODY!! Save your distorted apologies and defenses for the bankruptcy court, ok?

      • I’m not defending anybody, I’m just saying the truth. Rather than attack me personally, why not show me what I said there that was not true. As I said, this is a financial issue, not a programming issue. This isn’t about iHeart programming, but about how the Mays family put the company into so much debt that they will have to go bankrupt to get out of it. If you want to be mad at someone, be mad at Mark Mays.

  6. David Wrinkle- you are so off the mark. The villians in this disaster are the Mays family. They sold a very solid, great company so they could walk away with hundreds of millions of dollars without so much as a second thought about the welfare of the employees. I worked for IHeart (Clearchannel) for 18 years with many hardworking, smart and dedicated broadcasters. Despite having both hands tied behind their backs, these people go to work every day and give all they have. Your characterization of “aging DJ’s” running things is so off the mark as to be laughable. Greg Ashlock, who now oversees the entire radio division, has an MBA from USC and is one of the most savvy business people you’ll ever meet. His true genius is how he has succeeded in everything he has done DESPITE being saddled with Iheart’s enormous debt. Do some homework before you shoot off your mouth.

    • Bob there probably is some limited truth to Wrinkle’s observations, but your points are well-taken for sure. Altjiugh the Iheart debt skyrocketed to 23 billion long after the Mays family left…most of that debt has ballooned under Bob Pittman. Who knows if anyone could have done any better, but you just have to wonder if top creditors will require new management under a debt forgiveness and/or bankruptcy plan. As for Greg Ashlock, yes no question he’s a nice guy. But MBA-types are not innovators; they are trained to focus on enhancing shareholder value (not product development or implementing new ideas, for example), and clearly re-building the Iheart/Clear Channel stations is going to require fresh new thinking, strong millennial input, innovation, and new mindsets about programming etc. …Now WHERE you find that…well, good luck!!

      • Not sure where you got the $23 billion figure. Most reports I see say it’s $20.6. Almost all of it was caused by taking the company private, which was done by the Mays family in 2008. Each shareholder got $36 a share. Mark Mays left two years later. Pittman has been there since 2011. So I don’t know how you can say the debt has “ballooned under Bob Pittman.” The main thing is it hasn’t been reduced. So the “crippling debt” that the company had when Mark Mays was there remains today.

        As far as product development, that really hasn’t stopped. They keep coming up with new shows and products. They have no shortage of well respected programmers in the company, who have overseen a lot of very successful stations. You look at LA, and four of the Top 5 stations are owned by iHeart. So programming isn’t the problem. It’s making money from that programming. You have to sell a lot of :30 spots to make $20 billion. If that’s your main revenue stream, it’s going to take a while, no matter how good the programming or ratings are.

  7. Fish rot from the head down. The culture of I heart is. We’re too big to fail and we don’t play by the rules we make the rules. The absolute arrogance of management and and even the district managers that fly into New York several times a year is over the top. They never intend to ever pay for the stations. They just want to roll the debt. And every ageing hasbeen and never was over grown deejay that run all those stations never had to make a payroll or even understand that there is no substitute for profit whether you bill 100,000 a month or I billion a month . They don’t get it! A reset is needed. Sell the crap off for what it’s worth. 2 billion. Not 22 billion. Sober up ! Pittman is a disc jockey not an owner

  8. Sad. And Bob Pittman has worked hard as the boss for 7 years of iHeart/Clear Channel, but just has not been able to make any profit for the company. Are the creditors going to demand new management before signing off on any debt forgiveness?


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