The Hollywood Reporter-Billboard Group, a centralized publishing label that comprises both trade publications, will rebrand as MRC Media, insiders familiar with the company told Variety.
In addition to the new group name, parent owner Valence Media will also change its name to MRC — taking the moniker of the content studio the company owns, short for Media Rights Capital.
News of the plans come after the exit of Hollywood Reporter editorial director Matthew Belloni on Monday. Belloni’s departure stemmed from conflicts with Valence’s executive leadership over editorial independence at the Hollywood trade. Valence pressured Belloni to soften the publication’s coverage of celebrities and companies with which it did business, according to insiders.
One Valence insider said the push to rename to property predates Belloni’s departure, and the THR-Billboard Group has been referred to as MRC Media internally since last May. The change will not impact editorial and production staff at the publications on a granular level, the insider said, and email addresses for employees will remain the same at THR and Billboard.
Valence Media is run by executives Asif Satchu and Modi Wiczyk, who founded MRC, a production shop that counts films and series including “Knives Out,” “Ozark” and Netflix’s flagship original “House of Cards.”
The Hollywood Reporter was also reportedly pressured to promote projects and properties that Media Rights Capital and other Valence divisions backed. Valence owns Dick Clark Productions in addition to the news division and the studio, making its constellation of business partnerships both tangled and expansive. THR-Billboard president Deanna Brown also reportedly pushed Belloni to dial back on coverage that was snarky or harder hitting.
In a parting memo to staff, Belloni alluded to tensions with the publication’s ownership even as he called his exit “100% amicable.”
Upon his exit, a Valence Media spokesperson said, “We are committed to our publications and to journalistic integrity. We are, and have been for the past 18 months, in the process of working with the Poynter Institute to follow modern best practices and maintain optimal editorial independence.”