Time ran out on Friday for Americano Media as the deadline set by employees to keep working without pay at the Miami-based company came to an end without its owner being able to reach a deal with a potential buyer keep operations going.
Efforts to sell the company to Texas-based Voz Media had proven unsuccessful by the end of business on Friday and most workers that who been keeping radio operations on the air, even though they hadn’t been paid in months, said they had no intention of returning to work on Monday.
A previous offer made by Voz Media last week — which would have taken over the company’s heavy debt burden along with a symbolic payment of $1 to the current owner — was considered to be so low by Americano Media owner Ivan Garcia-Hidalgo that he told the Miami Herald that he did not consider it to be a real effort to buy his company.
Garcia-Hidalgo agreed last week to submit a counter-offer this week, but people familiar with the negotiations said that as of Friday morning Voz Media had not received one.
A large number of the more than 100 employees that had been working for months without pay sgined a petition Friday asking Garcia-Hidalgo to agree to the terms that have been proposed to him.
“Iván García Hidalgo must immediately accept whatever proposal is on the table that will allow us all to put an end to this unpleasant chapter and get on with our lives,” the petition signed by nearly 40 employees stated.
“Today more than 100 families are suffering because we have not received, for three months, the salary we deserve for our efforts. These are wages we accumulated after being promised falsely that we would be paid for that time. To delay this agony, under the argument that there is an alternative that would benefit the CEO — which is unrealistic — is unacceptable,” the petition said.
Americano Media employees told the Miami Herald that the situation has left most of them in severe financial straits, with some unable to make rent or mortgage payments and others going without health insurance.
Launched in March 2022 with a $1 million investment, the company sought to build a conservative, Fox News-like network in Spanish and obtained around $20 million from investors backing Garcia-Hidalgo’s vision The company sought to build a vast syndication platform across key political markets ahead of the upcoming 2024 elections.
But after building TV, radio and online news platforms, the company found itself running out of money a year later and now faces a total shutdown as employees walk out and creditors begin to take legal action.
While the amount of the company’s debt has not been made public, observers said it is substantial, as American Media spent heavily to acquire a top-of-the-line TV and radio operation.
Employees at the TV and news online departments had already stopped working, while radio kept going while staffers hoped Garcia-Hidalgo would find an investor to save the operation. But Friday was the deadline imposed by them and now the company is planning to air reruns to keep the radio station going.
Americano Media airs its radio programs in Miami on 790 AM.