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Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic for iHeartRadio

iHeartMedia, the holding company of iHeartRadio Inc., the biggest operator of radio stations in the United States, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The San-Antonio-based group reached an in-principle agreement with creditors to restructure an overwhelming amount of debt that had compounded since a private-equity buyout over a decade ago.

Why it matters: iHeartRadio, which owns over 850 radio stations throughout the country, has seen advertising revenues fall flat to major technology companies — much like others in the traditional media landscape.

iHeartMedia also owns a 90% stake in Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings Inc., a billboard company where most of the company's cash on hand comes from, and runs a popular concert business. The company has been unable to offload Clear Channel to lenders in exchange for relief and will not be filing that unit for bankruptcy.

“The agreement we announced today is a significant accomplishment, as it allows us to definitively address the more than $20 billion in debt that has burdened our capital structure. Achieving a capital structure that finally matches our impressive operating business will further enhance iHeartMedia’s position as America’s #1 audio company.”
— Bob Pittman, iHeartMedia's Chairman and CEO

The company was faced with $20 billion in debt which had compounded roughly over the past ten years.

  • Executives expect the agreement with owners to offload $10 billion of that debt for a financial restructuring will reduce debt enough to keep the company operating with the cash it has on hand.
  • Day-to-day operations of its businesses, at least for now, are not expected to be dramatically affected.

iHeart has seen its business take a hit from the rise of audio streaming, mainly via Pandora and Spotify.

  • The company launched a subscription service last year with Napster, which has been successful, but not enough to save the company from the mounting debt.
  • Its terrestrial radio business, the largest in the country, also struggled to maintain advertising revenues to offset mounting debt costs.

Go deeper

Dominion sends cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell

Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Dominion Voting Systems on Monday sent a cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell over his spread of misinformation related to the 2020 election.

Why it matters: Trump and several of his allies have pushed false conspiracy theories about the company, leading Dominion to take legal action. It's suing pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell for defamation and $1.3 billion in damages, and a Dominion employee has sued Trump himself, OANN and Newsmax.

Off the Rails

Episode 5: The secret CIA plan

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer, Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 5: Trump vs. Gina — The president becomes increasingly rash and devises a plan to tamper with the nation's intelligence command.

In his final weeks in office, after losing the election to Joe Biden, President Donald Trump embarked on a vengeful exit strategy that included a hasty and ill-thought-out plan to jam up CIA Director Gina Haspel by firing her top deputy and replacing him with a protege of Republican Congressman Devin Nunes.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director defends agency's response to pandemic — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Empire State Building among hundreds to light up in Biden inauguration coronavirus tribute.
  3. Vaccine: Fauci: 100 million doses in 100 days is "absolutely" doable.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode again.
  5. Tech: Kids' screen time sees a big increase.