Last week an involuntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition was filed by creditors of Inner City Media Corporation (ICBC), which through Inner City Broadcasting Corporation owns 17 radio stations in the country, including the flagship stations WLIB-AM and WBLS-FM in New York City.
The creditors, mainly Ron Burkle’s Yucaipa Corporate Initiative Fund of Los Angeles, filed the 175 page petition in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan, citing approximately $254 million in debt.
According to one news account, Pierre Sutton, chairman of Inner City and the son of the station’s founder the late Percy Sutton, “scuttled a proposed prepackaged bankruptcy that would have paid unsecured creditors in full, and allowed a small payment to equity holders.”
Though a petition has been filed by the creditors, there remain a number of steps involved before a decision is rendered. If the bankruptcy petition gains traction in court it could spell the end of Inner City as it has been known and constituted since its founding in 1971 when it was New York City’s first Black-owned radio station.
Consistent with that plan to stay the course is a recent statement from Inner City: “Our radio stations remain on air, and our programming is intact. We are in active discussions with our new creditors. Our independent committee of directors continues to evaluate all of our options, and we look forward to arriving at an agreement that respects the Company’s storied legacy and better positions us to achieve continued long term success.”