Variety Parent Penske Media to Take Over Hollywood Reporter, Billboard in Joint Venture With MRC

The newly-formed PMRC will operate PMC’s Rolling Stone, Variety and Music Business Worldwide interests and MRC’s The Hollywood Reporter, Billboard and Vibe

variety the hollywood reporter
Photo credit: PMC/MRC

Variety parent company Penske Media Corporation (PMC) will take over operations of MRC’s The Hollywood Reporter, Billboard and Vibe in a new joint venture called PMRC, the companies announced Wednesday. In addition, MRC will lead a second joint venture to create content based on the outlets, which include PMC’s Rolling Stone, Variety and Music Business Worldwide interests.

Both PMC and MRC — formerly Valence Media — hold significant ownership in the ventures, according to a release. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

PMC will oversee day-to-day operations of THR, Billboard and Vibe. MRC, whose properties include Dick Clark Productions, will operate the content partnership across the six brands of the newly created PMRC, developing film, TV and other content-based projects based on PMRC stories and intellectual property.

The new deal comes amid financial struggles for the traditional Hollywood industry trades, particularly The Hollywood Reporter. In April, when the parent company of THR and Billboard was known as Valence Media, there were widespread layoffs as part of an effort to reduce expenses and turn the company toward profitability.

As exclusively reported by TheWrap, the cuts were expected to rise to “$9-$10 million of personnel and headcount expenses,” according to an insider at the company. The downsizing, which also included a reduction in print publication frequency for THR and Billboard, was initially slated to be even deeper, the insider said, since losses at the media company are estimated at about $18 million a year.

Even before the pandemic, THR has been losing revenue for more than a decade, with losses as high as $30 million annually, according to executives with knowledge of the company’s finances.

In 2015, Guggenheim Partners — joined by other investors — spun off THR, Billboard, Adweek, Dick Clark Productions and Mediabistro to Guggenheim President Todd Boehly, who is now chairman and owns a controlling interest in all of those entities. Those properties were combined in 2018 with the production company Media Rights Capital under the umbrella of Valence Media, led by co-executives Asif Satchu and Modi Wiczyk. Earlier this year, Valence Media underwent another rebranding to become MRC.

In a statement, PMC CEO Jay Penske said he has “long admired” MRC brands like The Hollywood Reporter and Billboard, adding that they “have contributed immensely to the heightened quality of journalism covering entertainment and music today.”

MRC CEOs Asif Satchu and Modi Wiczyk added, “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.”


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