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Friday’s (9 March) edition of the NME will be its last in print, its parent company Time Inc has announced, citing increasing production costs and a the “tough” print advertising market as reasons for ending its 66-year run on paper.

The publication, which switched from a newsstand mag to a free sheet in 2015, will focus investment on expanding its digital audience.

It will no longer produce a weekly physical edition, with Friday’s mag marking its last in a print run of 66 years. However, Time Inc has stated it will continue to publish special paid-for print issues, such as NME Gold, and will explore ‘other opportunities to bring its best in class music journalism to market in print’.

“The print re-invention has helped us to attract a range of cover stars that the previous paid-for magazine could only have dreamed of,” said Paul Cheal, Time Inc UK group managing director for music. “At the same time, we have also faced 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.

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

The refreshed digital strategy includes the launch of NME Audio, a regional DAB radio brand comprising the stations NME 1 and NME 2. NME 1 has been handed the remit to ‘champion new talent’, while its sister station will play out ‘a range of artists and NME classics’.

Additionally will digitally publish The Big Read – a replacement for the mag’s weekly cover star interview. It also has plans for ‘enhancements’ to its ticketing service  membership offering and  new talent platform, NME Emerging.