Upheaval at Clear Ch… Err iHeart

All the important people that work for iHeart Media were summoned to a meeting with Bob Pittman. They knew it would not be to discuss the Oscar awards. Clear Channel is $20 billion in debt and as sick as Sumner Redstone.

The biggest news is that the guy who has been creating iHeartRadio and the digital media platform was told to walk the plank.

The new direction is to focus more on cutting costs by increasing the amount of centrally controlled automation of programming.

This is happening at the same time the NAB is pushing Congress to pass the Orwellian named “Local Radio Freedom Act”

by the same organization that fought for over 10 years to delay issuing licenses to the Low Power FM radio stations that are local by definition, and the radio monsters unemploying all of the humans that used to work in local radio.

My head hurts.

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2 Responses to Upheaval at Clear Ch… Err iHeart

  1. briand75 says:

    So iHeart which is big is now going nowhere? I don’t understand. Pittman must be either a genius or a complete moron. I am not sure which.

    • Art Stone says:

      Pittman ran AOL back when they were hyping the stock, using it ultimately to take over Time Warner.

      The rumor mill is that things like selling most of the radio towers then leasing them back is preparation for a “restructuring” of their debt or a prepackaged bankruptcy.

      To get the big picture, Clear Channel outdoors still exists – they own billboards inside airports, along highways and very expensive transit stops in Europe. At least two European bank loaned a part of the money to “take Clear Channel private” in 2009. Around 2010, a concerted effort was made to push CC into bankruptcy – the bonds floated during the deal were heavily discounted – creating an imputed interest rate of like 25%. The belief was the European banks would trade their debt for getting control of the European operation of Clear Channel Outdoors.

      The two private equity firms managing the deal wanted to flip the company maybe an IPO,,and get out in 5 years.

      Pittman was not involved in the original deal – he arrived later to sort out the mess. Clear Channel still throws off cash, but nowhere near enough to make a dent in paying down the debt. An IPO to spin off Premiere ain’t gonna happen now. How much is the iHeart concert business worth?

      In that Larry King interview – he makes the remark (while in the Clear Channel building in New York” that he doesn’t understand radio today – that 8000 radio stations are owned by two guys, and half of them are run from the building in New York. All very curios why he was actually there.

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