March 7, 2018 / 2:58 PM / in 9 months

Pioneering UK music paper NME to close print edition

LONDON (Reuters) - NME, the pop music newspaper that created the first British singles chart in 1952, will be printed for the final time this week as it shifts focus to its digital audience, publisher Time Inc said on Wednesday.

The paper - called New Musical Express in full - documented the rise of British pop music led by the Beatles and the Rolling Stones in the 1960s, punk in the 1970s and Britpop in the 1990s.

It was re-launched in 2015 as a free publication, achieving a circulation of more than 307,000 copies a week, just beating its previous record sale in 1964.

Time Inc’s UK group managing director Paul Cheal said the move to free print had boosted the brand’s online audience but it was facing increasing production costs and a very tough print advertising market.

“Unfortunately we have now reached a point where the free weekly magazine is no longer financially viable,” he said.

“It is in the digital space where effort and investment will focus to secure a strong future for this famous brand.”

Time Inc said NME’s digital brand NME.com, launched 21 years ago, attracted more than 3 million British unique users and more than 13 million global unique users a month.

“Our global digital audience has almost doubled over the past two years,” said NME digital director Keith Walker.

“By making the digital platforms our core focus, we can accelerate the amazing growth we’ve seen and reach more people than ever before on the devices they’re most naturally using.”

Reporting by Paul Sandle; editing by Stephen Addison

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