London listings magazine Time Out goes free

London weekly listings magazine Time Out, founded in 1968 by Tony Elliott and DJ ‘Whispering’ Bob Harris, is to join the burgeoning ranks of London’s free media.

It will join titles like the London Evening Standard, Metro, City AM, sports title Shortlist and Stylist on London’s streets from September.

Time Out began as one of many ‘counter-culture’ magazines in the 1960’s (in one early edition it printed the names of CIA agents working in the UK) but developed into primarily an entertainment listings mag. It publishes about 60 overseas editions in places like Chicago, Moscow and Singapore with local partners and has a global listings website.

Its paid circulation in London, which once neared 200,000, has sunk to around 55,000 so the move to free (with 300,000 or so copies) is probably inevitable. But Time Out remains a strong brand.

The ever-controversial Elliott (left), who has fired numerous editors in his 40 years or so at the helm, sold 50 per cent of the company to Oakley Capital in 2010 for about £10m.

In the pre-internet era Time Out would have fetched far more but Elliott chose not to accept one of many offers. At one point the Saatchi brothers, then running Saatchi & Saatchi, were interested in buying the title.

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