Among the titles absorbed by Meredith Corp., the publishing and broadcast company that is acquiring Time Inc. in a $2.8 billion deal, are popular U.K. magazines NME and Uncut. NME, a staple of the British music scene since its founding as New Musical Express in 1952 — and the first U.K. publication to feature a singles chart — was sold to IPC in 1963. In 2001, Time Inc. bought IPC and in 2015, NME changed from a paid subscription/newsstand model to free distribution throughout the U.K.
NME saw several spikes in readership throughout its history, beginning with the Beatles’ rise to international superstardom in the 1960s and again in the 1980s when New Wave music exploded along with MTV. In the 1990s, the rivalry between Blur and Oasis saw sales of the weekly magazine rebound. Today, its circulation hovers in the 300,000 range, according to an ABC (Audit Bureau of Circulation) report from 2016.
Uncut was founded in 1997 and aimed at an older audience of music and movie lovers. Over the years, it has featured many classic rock stars on its covers and has found a niche in dedicating entire issues to the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd and Radiohead. The monthly publication had a circulation of 47,000 as of 2015.
Des Moines, Iowa-based Meredith announced the all-cash acquisition of Time Inc. is backed by $650 million from Koch Equity Development, the investment arm of Koch Industries, an industrial conglomerate rooted in the oil and gas business. According to Meredith, KED will not have a seat on its board, and will have “no influence on Meredith’s editorial or managerial operations.”
Brothers Charles and David Koch have become controversial figures for their lavish spending to back political candidates and causes, most of them conservative.
Meredith chairman-CEO Stephen Lacy emphasized that the combined reach of the two companies would exceed 200 million consumers. The enlarged company would generate about $4.8 billion and adjust earnings of $800 million. Meredith said it expects to generate $400 million-$500 million of savings from streamlining operations during the first two years.