After more than a week of speculation, entertainment public relations and marketing firms BNC and PMK/HBH on Tuesday made it official and said they were consolidating operations.

The merger, to take effect in January, combines PMK/HBH, one of Hollywood's biggest celebrity public relations agencies, with BNC, a firm that has specialized in corporate clients. Both firms are owned by advertising agency giant Interpublic Group. The new agency will be called PMK-BNC.

The deal comes during a difficult time for Hollywood's public relations machine, which is suffering from budget cutbacks at the studios resulting in fewer movies and TV shows -- and therefore fewer opportunities to plug talent -- as well as shrinking media outlets that are reducing entertainment coverage.

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