Since the news broke about Bill O’Reilly, other conservative talk show hosts seem to be dropping like flies. Sean Hannity is in hot water over alleged sexual misconduct, Breitbart lost their chance at a permanent White House Press Pass and right-wing radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh is about to lose his job too.
iHeart Radio on the Brink of Collapse
According to an investigative report, the parent company of iHeartCommunications, which writes the paychecks to Hannity and Limbaugh, is nearing bankruptcy. Sources said they learned about the bankruptcy after looking at a statement filed by the company with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
According to the statement, the company has expressed “substantial doubt” that it would have enough resources to remain in the business past the middle of next year. iHeartMedia’s financial troubles may be caused by rabid competition coming from online platforms but the report shows there is more to it than that.
Advertisers are reportedly leaving in droves because their conservative audience is “literally dying off.” According to multiple industry reports, the average age of a conservative radio talk show listener is 67.
Making things worse, Limbaugh has been caught in a series of controversies in recent years like the time he called women’s activist Sandra Fluke a “slut.”
That is not a surprise coming from the notoriously misogynistic Limbaugh but that 2012 move cost his show millions in ad revenue after 140 advertisers that boycotted the program. According to a leak, the same advertisers refused to pour their money in other conservative talk shows such as those hosted by Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, and Michael Savage.
Limbaugh Sinking Even Further
Sources also say that Limbaugh is in an even worse position right now as he has lost the support of its top affiliates across the U.S. For example, New York City’s WABC, LA’s KFI, and Boston’s WRKO have all dropped his show. He has had to resort to partnering with weaker radio stations to preserve his relevance on air.
It is unclear whether iHeartCommunications will manage to dodge financial collapse. In 2008, iHeartMedia became the only owner of iHeartCommunications after a multi-billion-dollar stock buyout, but the move left iHeartMedia indebted beyond repair.
According to Market Watch, the conglomerate currently owes $350 million to bond holders. In December, a rating agency gave the media empire’s bonds a junk-level rating. The company is reportedly trying to pay old bonds by issuing new ones, but bondholders are concerned the firm could declare bankruptcy under Chapter 11 to fend off creditors.
Even if iHeartMedia manages to escape bankruptcy, it will have to trim its workforce and make deep cuts to get rid of the debt. In other words, Limbaugh and Hannity will have to cope with a contract renegotiation or wave goodbye to their listeners. They could try to make their voices heard online like Beck did after leaving Fox News. People familiar with the matter told Huffington Post last fall claim Beck’s media empire’s future is uncertain as well.
Image Source: Chicago Tribune