New York Times moves closer to charging as profits rise

NEW YORK - The New York Times Company is moving closer to charging readers for content as it reported a surprise rise in second-quarter net income to almost $40m on the back of cost cutting, but advertising revenue fell 30%.

The rise in profits to $39.1m compares to $21.1m a year earlier. The earnings included a tax benefit of $37.7m.

The New York Times Company gave no update on the possible sale of the loss making Boston Globe, which has now agreed cost cutting will all unions.

However, it did give a few details on its plans to charge online users for access to its content.  Janet Robinson, president and CEO of the New York Times Co said that the company was trying to work out how many of its readers would be willing to pay for online content and how much they would pay.

She told the Wall Street Journal that talks were "centered on a metered model and a Times membership model with special offerings".

Robinson said: "As we look ahead, an enduring constant is the outstanding journalism of The New York Times Company and the esteem in which it is held by our readers.

"For the balance of the year, we are focused on developing innovative new products and platforms based on our high-quality journalism, particularly in the digital area."

Overall advertising revenues declined 31.9% mainly due to weakness in print advertising across the News Media Group but also, the media firm said, because of a lower volume of online advertising.

Robinson said: "Advertising revenues decreased across all major categories although the rate of decline lessened throughout the quarter.

"As we continue our transition from a company focused primarily on print to one that is increasingly digital in focus and multiplatform in delivery, online advertising revenues are a more important part of our mix.

"Based on what we have seen so far in July, we expect the advertising environment to continue to be challenging.

"We believe the rate of decline will moderate slightly in the third quarter from what we experienced in the second quarter."

Earlier this month the company announced it had reached a deal to sell its New York City classical radio station, WQXR-FM.

It spoke about the potential sale of its interest in New England Sports Ventures, which includes the Boston Red Sox regional cable channel, New England Sports Network, but gave no details.

The results from the New York Times Co follows those earlier this week from Miami Herald-owner McClatchy Company, which reported higher than expected profits.

McClatchy said its second-quarter net income rose to $42.2m compared to $19.7 last year, a rise of 43%.