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Audacy Mulls Legal Action Over ‘Bankruptcy’ Blog Post

The author defends the article, saying it is based on a four-year-old memo.

Radio and podcast giant Audacy, Inc. is considering taking legal action against a New York University professor over a blog post that stated Audacy’s chief executive confirmed the company is bankrupt, according to an internal memo seen by Billboard.

In the memo, Audacy chairman and CEO David Field said the post’s headline — “David Field Confirms Audacy’s Bankruptcy” — was false. The article, written by Jerry Del Colliano, was published Tuesday on Del Colliano’s website, Inside Music Media.

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“That statement is categorically and unequivocally untrue,” Field wrote in the memo, which was verified by a spokesperson. “Audacy intends to pursue all applicable remedies for false and defamatory statements meant to cause damage to Audacy, its employees and its stakeholders to the fullest extent of the law.”

The company posted a similar statement on its official Twitter account on Tuesday. A spokesperson for Audacy declined to comment beyond those two statements.

The pandemic and the current uncertain economic outlook have impacted Audacy’s advertising revenues, Field said on a recent earnings call. The company recently completed a round of layoffs in which the company let go of around 5% of staff.

Collectively, the stock prices of the four radio companies—iHeartMedia, Audacy, Cumulus Media and Townsquare Media– suffered during the market downturn in the first half of the year, losing an average of 48.9%. iHeartMedia and Audacy dropped 62.5% and 63.4%, respectively. Cumulus Media, which rejected a takeover bid in May, and Townsquare Media fared better with declines of 31.3% and 38.6%, respectively.

Del Colliano defended his article, saying it focuses on a memo Field wrote in 2018 about the bankruptcy of iHeartMedia.

According to the memo, which Del Colliano links to in his article, Field wrote that iHeart and Cumulus Media “made ill-advised decisions to place too much debt on their companies.”

“The best defense is the truth, and I’ve got the truth,” Del Colliano, a professor in NYU’s Steinhardt Music Business Program, said. “He’s got a poorly performing company confirmed by their stock price, their approximately $1.8 billion worth of debt, their inability to equal the revenue pre-pandemic, and the churn they have in the company in terms of employees leaving on their own.”

In the early 2000s, Del Colliano was sued by Clear Channel Communications in federal court in Manhattan over articles published on his platform Inside Radio. Del Colliano countersued, and the matter was eventually settled out of court in a deal that involved Clear Channel acquiring Inside Radio for an undisclosed sum.

Were this new matter to go to court, Del Colliano said, “all we have to prove is that we put the story in there and tweeted it, and people can read it themselves.”