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iHeartMedia Debt Grows, Layoffs Continue Amid Concern for Future

Variety logo Variety 5/4/2017 Roy Trakin
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iHeartMedia has released its financial results for the first quarter of 2017 (ending March 31) and its report was not encouraging. “There is substantial doubt about our ability to continue as a going concern for a period of 12 months following the release of the figures,” the report says, with “a substantial amount of [their] cash requirements [slated] for debt-service obligations.”

The news comes in the wake of renewed contracts with superstar on-air personalities like Elvis Duran and Steve Harvey, and the move of Ryan Seacrest to New York to co-host “Live with Kelly and Ryan,” for which the company built brand-new studios at WABC in New York so he can continue his live morning duties at KIIS-FM in Los Angeles.

There have also been widespread layoffs at various iHeartMedia properties in Chicago, Detroit, Tampa, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Jacksonville, Sacramento, New Orleans, Grand Rapids, Florence, and Mobile, Alabama; Biloxi, Mississippi; and Canton, Ohio — which are widely seen as coming in anticipation of what many believe will be a potential bankruptcy filing, even if that possibility has been denied by the company. At press time, 19 employees were known to have been let go.

An iHeartMedia spokesperson, referring to the layoffs, issued the following statement: “Each market constantly looks at all aspects of its business to ensure that it reflects how the best organizations work today so they can continue to operate as effectively and efficiently as possible. This creates some new jobs, and unfortunately, sometimes eliminates others,” while refusing to comment on any speculation about a bankruptcy filing.

Still, the company anticipates “having approximately $1.7 billion of cash interest payment obligations for 2017, including maturities totaling $316.5 million, $324 million and $8,369 million in 2017, 2018 and 2019, respectively,” according to this morning’s financial results.

Among those who have confirmed leaving the company are Cincinnati SVP of programming Bo Matthews and VP/market manager Chuck Frederick; WRNO New Orleans program director Jim Fisher; WFUS Tampa music director Launa Phillips; and WFSY Panama City, Florida’s Logan Kelly, among others.

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