Rolling Stone, iconic music magazine, looks for buyer

Rolling Stone last year sold a 49 percent stake to a Singaporean music and technology start-up, BandLab Technologies. (Shutterstock)
Updated 18 September 2017
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Rolling Stone, iconic music magazine, looks for buyer

NEW YORK: Rolling Stone, the iconic 50-year-old magazine of music and counterculture, is putting itself up for sale amid an increasingly uncertain outlook, its founder said.
Jann Wenner — who started Rolling Stone in 1967 as a hippie student in Berkeley, California and now runs it with his son Gus — told The New York Times that the future looked tough for a family-run publisher.
“There’s a level of ambition that we can’t achieve alone,” Gus Wenner told the newspaper in an interview published late Sunday.
“So we are being proactive and want to get ahead of the curve,” he said.
One of the most influential magazines covering rock music, Rolling Stone has also been a home for experimental writers such as the gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson.
But the magazine’s reputation — and finances — were badly damaged when it retracted a 2014 story about an alleged gang rape at the University of Virginia, with a review finding that Rolling Stone did not undertake basic journalistic procedures to verify the facts.
Rolling Stone last year sold a 49 percent stake to a Singaporean music and technology start-up, BandLab Technologies, which is headed by Kuok Meng Ru, the scion of one of Asia’s richest families.
It was not immediately known if Kuok would want to take a controling stake in Rolling Stone.
The Wenner family earlier this year sold its other two titles — celebrity magazine US Weekly and lifestyle monthly Men’s Journal — to American Media, Inc., a publisher of supermarket tabloids including The National Enquirer.
If American Media, Inc., were interested in Rolling Stone, it would mark a sharp change in owners’ ideologies.
The tabloid empire is led by David Pecker, an ardent ally of President Donald Trump, while Rolling Stone tilts strongly to the left and has featured lengthy interviews with Democratic presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton.
Jann Wenner, 71, who is also a key force behind the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, said that he hoped to keep an editorial role at Rolling Stone but that the decision would be up to its new owner.


Netflix to roll out cheaper mobile-only plan for India

Updated 18 July 2019
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Netflix to roll out cheaper mobile-only plan for India

  • India is among the last big growth markets for the company
  • Netflix faces competition from Amazon’s Prime Video and Walt Disney Co’s Hotstar
Netflix said on Wednesday it would roll out a lower-priced mobile-only plan in India within the next three months to tap into a price-sensitive market at a time the streaming company is losing customers in its home turf.
India is among the last big growth markets for the company, where it faces competition from Amazon.com Inc’s Prime Video and Hotstar, a video streaming platform owned by Walt Disney Co’s India unit.
Netflix lost US streaming customers for the first time in eight years on Wednesday, when it posted quarterly results. It also missed targets for new subscribers overseas.
“India is a mobile-first nation, where many first-time users are experiencing the Internet on their phones. In such a scenario, a mobile-only package makes sense to target new users,” said Tarun Pathak, analyst at Counterpoint Research.
The creator of “Stranger Things” and “The Crown” said in March that it was testing a 250-rupee ($3.63) monthly subscription for mobile devices in India, where data plans are among the cheapest in the world.
The country figures prominently in Chief Executive Officer Reed Hastings’ global expansion plans.
“We believe this plan, which will launch in the third quarter, will be an effective way to introduce a larger number of people in India to Netflix and to further expand our business,” the company said in a letter to investors released late on Wednesday.
Netflix currently offers three monthly plans in India, priced between 500 rupees ($7.27) and 800 rupees $11.63).
It has created a niche following in the country by launching local original shows like the thriller “Sacred Games” and dystopian tale “Leila,” which feature popular Bollywood actors.
The second season of “Sacred Games” is set to release in August.
In contrast, Hotstar, which also offers content from AT&T Inc’s HBO and also streams live sports, charges 299 rupees ($4.35) per month. Amazon bundles its video and music streaming services with its Prime membership.
“We’ve been seeing nice steady increases in engagement with our Indian viewers that we think we can keep building on. Growth in that country is a marathon, so we’re in it for the long haul,” Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said.