As New York Times (NYT) Cuts Dividend, Rupert Murdoch Sits In The Wings

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The New York Times Company (NYT) announced that it was cutting its dividend by 74% to $.06. That came after its revealed that its October advertising revenue fell over 16%. Internet sales were only up in the single digits. The firm’s New England newspapers, including The Boston Glob, lost over 20% of their ad sales.

The bite of falling real estate, employment, and car advertising is still killing the company, and it has debt payments due next year. It must conserve cash in any way it can.

The New York Times does not have the usual shareholder structure. Most of the voting stock is controlled by the Sulzberger family. Only a few members of that clan have jobs at the Times. The rest of the brood needs those dividend payments to cover their Mercedes and big house in the Hamptons.

In other words, the Sulzbergers may be about to turn on the Sulzbergers. The part of the family not getting salaries, and that is most of them, may decide the best way to support their lifestyles is to sell the company.

Who wants to buy a troubled newspaper company with a large internet operation? Why that would be Rupert Murdoch of News Corp (NWS), who recently bought Dow Jones from another dysfunctional family. Murdoch could dump the money-losing regional newspapers NYT owns, sell-off its internet search business, About.com, and end up with the most well-respected paper in the United States.

Murdoch has the benefit being able to combine some back office and production facilities with his New York Post. that could save him a nice chunk of money. He might even combine some of the NYT reporting functions with the ones he has at the Journal.

And, he would be, in his old age, the King of All Media in America.

Douglas A. McIntyre