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Penske buys Texas TV festival

The magazine, digital and events group Penske Media Corp, of the US, has acquired the Texas-based ATX TV. Founded 12 years ago by Emily Gipson and Caitlin McFarland as an annual television festival, ATX TV is nicknamed by its hometown newspaper as “the TV camp for grownups.”

It is said by Penske to have evolved into “a year-round business creating programming and experiences for a cultivated community of passionate television enthusiasts…celebrates television and its highly engaged audience by programming impactful experiences and content 365 days a year.”

ATX TV Festival is a four-day B2B and B2C event, taking place in June, in Austin, Texas. The co-founders will continue to manage the business under Penske.

It’s the latest festival to join Penske’s growing events portfolio, alongside fellow Austin-based SXSW (Penske owns 50%), as well as the Las Vegas music festival Life Is Beautiful and the newly-created LA3C, a Los Angeles music, art and food festival whose inaugural edition takes place in December. 

The 18-year-old, $1bn-revenue Penske Media has been an active acquirer of established media brands including: Variety, Rolling Stone, The Hollywood Reporter, Billboard, WWD, SHE Media, Robb Report, Deadline, Sportico, BGR, ARTnews, Vibe, IndieWire, Dirt, Gold Derby and, It also owns major cultural events such as SXSW, LA3C, and Life is Beautiful. 

The company’s founder, chair and 75% shareholder Jay Penske first launched Mail. com, an email portal which he sold to United Internet, of Germany, for almost €100 seven years later. He also co-founded Firefly, creator of mobile phones for children (complete with “Call Mom” and “Call Dad” buttons), winning the Innovation Award at CES in 2006. He also owns Dragon Books (an LA-based antiquarian bookseller) and one of the founding Formula-E teams (the electric Formula 1 series). 

His media business began to flourish with the 2009 acquisition of the Hollywood blog Deadline. But the big breakthrough was the $25m acquisition of Variety from Reed Elsevier in 2012, followed by Fairchild Fashion Media (WWD) from Condé Nast for some $100m. Penske has continued to expand by acquiring marquee business and “prosumer” magazine brands with international growth potential in information services and events. 

Two years ago, it took over the operations of MRC Media, including Variety’s principal competitor The Hollywood Reporter and Billboard. The deal included a data JV, now called Luminate, which has launched Global Hits, tracking the top performing songs across 48 countries, alongside its own Billboard charts. 

Early on, one of Penske’s colleagues had predicted: “He wants to be a modern day Si Newhouse, he wants to have a glamorous publishing company.” Like Newhouse, Penske has enthusiastically invested in original content, famous media brands, and well-known talent. 

Penske Media Corp