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PMC to Operate Billboard, Hollywood Reporter and Vibe in Joint Venture With MRC

Courtesy of PMC/MRC

Variety parent company Penske Media Corp. has set a deal with MRC to operate Billboard, Vibe and the Hollywood Reporter under a newly formed joint venture.

The transaction calls for PMC and MRC to set up a newly established entity dubbed PMRC.

PMC will lead daily operations of an expanded entertainment and music brand portfolio under the PMRC banner that will bring two Hollywood trade institutions under the same roof for the first time. Billboard, Vibe and the Reporter will join PMC’s Variety, Rolling Stone and Music Business Worldwide.

The second joint venture calls for MRC to use its content production assets — which include Dick Clark Productions — to develop new content and business opportunities drawn from stories and other intellectual property culled from across PMRC brands.

PMC and MRC will continue to operate independently outside the joint ventures. The deal was announced early Wednesday by PMC chief executive Jay Penske and MRC co-CEOs Asif Satchu and Modi Wiczyk. Financial terms were not disclosed. 

“These are all brands I’ve long admired. Billboard, The Hollywood Reporter, and Vibe have created some of the finest content in their respective industries and have contributed immensely to the heightened quality of journalism covering entertainment and music today,” said Penske. “We feel very fortunate for this valuable partnership with the exceptional MRC team and the opportunity to continue the legacy of these tremendous brands for the next many decades.”

Discussions about a transaction between PMC and MRC for the latter’s entertainment news brands have been going on and off for some time.

“We have a great deal of respect for Variety, Rolling Stone and Music Business Worldwide and, as importantly, the leadership at PMC who we’ve gotten to know well and look forward to partnering with in both these businesses,” said Satchu and Wiczyk. 

The pact promises to shakeup the entertainment industry trade journalism landscape. PMC’s holdings outside of the PMRC venture include Deadline, WWD, She Media, Sportico and Robb Report.

MRC brings to the venture its production infrastructure. The MRC banner is home to the Netflix drama “Ozark” and has produced such feature films as “Knives Out,” “Baby Driver” and “Ted.” Dick Clark Productions is known for its live event and kudocast franchises, notably the annual Golden Globe Awards and the American Music Awards.

Variety is marking its 115th anniversary this year. Hollywood Reporter was founded in 1930 by William “Billy” Wilkerson, a raconteur and entrepreneur who also owned Los Angeles’ famed Ciro’s nightclub and helped turned Las Vegas into a gambling mecca after World War II.

The Reporter launched as the first daily trade paper based on the West Coast covering Hollywood studios in contrast to the New York-based weekly Variety. The Los Angeles-based Daily Variety edition debuted in 1933, sparking a fierce rivalry between Hollywood’s hometown papers that has endured for nearly 90 years.

Billboard’s roots covering music industry news and sales of sheet music and recorded music date back to 1894. Vibe, focusing on hip hop and pop culture, began in 1993 as a partnership of Quincy Jones and Time Inc. publications.

Billboard, THR and Vibe have all been part of M&A activity in recent years.

In 2010, THR transitioned from daily to a weekly format following its acquisition by Guggenheim Partners. Former Guggenheim president Todd Boehly subsequently acquired THR, Billboard and Vibe plus Dick Clark Productions when he exited the investment firm in 2015. Boehly’s Valence Media merged with MRC in early 2018.

PMC acquired Variety in 2012.

Variety staff contributed to this post.

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