It would have been hard for The New York Times (NYT) to post numbers much worse than their sales for November.
Advertising revenue for the News Media Group, which includes the firm’s newspapers. declined 21.8% to $141.2 million.
The websites attached to the newspapers had a revenue drop of 4% as modest growth in display advertising was offset by weakness in online recruitment and real estate advertising. The company’s About.com online property’s advertising revenue decreased 3.5% as declines in display advertising were helped by growth in cost-per-click advertising.
The numbers make it likely that NYT will post an operating loss in the fourth quarter of the year. It faces debt payments of $400 million in 2009. It has been working on mortgaging the piece of its headquarters that the company owns, but in this real estate market it is unclear what that will bring.
The last chance NYT has to survive as an independent company may be if it can sell About.com, its New England papers including The Boston Globe, and its regional newspaper group. The papers may no longer have any financial value.
Douglas A. McIntyre