TIMELY NUMBERS: The New York Times Co. on Thursday reported a 21 percent drop in second-quarter revenues, to $584.5 million, and cited double-digit declines in print and online advertising revenues at the company’s newspapers and related Web sites, including The New York Times and the Boston Globe. But net income rose more than 80 percent to $39.1 million, mostly due to cost cutting and a tax adjustment. Even without the tax break, the company still eked out a small, and surprising, profit.
Advertising revenues across the entire company declined 30 percent for the quarter, to $317 million, although total circulation revenues rose 1.5 percent, to $227 million, thanks to an increase in newsstand and subscription prices for the Times, the Boston Globe and some of its regional newspapers.
Within the News Media Group, total revenues shrunk 22 percent, with advertising revenues across the segment contracting 32 percent. Times Co. president and chief executive officer Janet Robinson said the pace of the declines had slowed over the three months — from 35 percent in April to 29 percent in June. “Based upon what we have seen so far in July, we continue to believe 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,” she said.
At the New York Times Media Group, home of the flagship paper and Web site, national advertising contracted across financial services, live entertainment and books, but telecommunications, health care and technology outperformed. Digital revenues at the News Group declined 22 percent, mostly due to a slowdown in classified advertising. Online revenues in the quarter accounted for 21 percent of the Times Co.’s overall revenues.
With such declines in ad sales, Robinson said the company was researching other means of generating revenue, including how to charge readers for content online. The company hopes to have insight in the fall from its own research on consumers’ attitudes toward paying for content.
The company also said it had trimmed costs faster than expected during the first half of the year, and predicted it would have cut $450 million in expenses, or 16 percent of its 2008 costs, by the end of the year. It also said the company is moving forward with the sale of its stake in the Boston Red Sox. The company, however, declined to comment on the much-expected sale of the Boston Globe. “What we will say is that we regularly review our portfolio of properties to ensure they are meeting our financial targets and remain a strategic fit. The recent revenue and expense initiatives we undertook at the Globe…help put it on stronger financial footing,” said Robinson.
— Stephanie D. Smith
NEW GUY AT O: As Susan Casey takes the reins as editor in chief of O, The Oprah Magazine, the magazine may be getting a new look. Design director Kerry Robertson has left and is being succeeded on an interim basis by Robert Priest. The well-regarded Priest was most recently design director at Condé Nast Portfolio, and years ago worked on the launch of the now-defunct O at Home.
“With any new editor in chief there are often staff changes,” said a spokeswoman for the magazine. Priest started on Wednesday. Casey was named last month to succeed Susan Reed, who left the magazine after less than a year. The long-successful O has struggled on the newsstand, dropping 25 percent in single copy sales in the second half of 2008. So far this year through the May issue, there have been bright spots that helped boost the average despite some weaker months: over 1.1 million copies sold of the January weight loss-themed issue, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations Rapid Report, and a jump from a Michelle Obama cover that sold 825,000 copies.
— Irin Carmon
CHANEL CROSSING: It seems Londoners aren’t going to let the U.K. release of “Coco Before Chanel” pass by unnoticed. To celebrate the film’s U.K. launch July 31, vintage fashion Web site QueensOfVintage.com is organizing a spontaneous gathering of Chanel fans — which it dubs a “fash mob” — at London’s St. Pancras International train station July 30. The site has asked those who partake to wear “their finest attire,” when they gather at the station to wave at the Eurostar trains departing for Paris, “and share their enthusiasm for the legendary Parisian label.” Those who attend will also be able to win Chanel biographies and soundtracks to the film.
A spokesman for the film in the U.K. said the gathering isn’t an official event and has been organized by “enthusiasts of the film.” A spokeswoman for Chanel in the U.K. could not be reached for comment, but a spokeswoman for Queens of Vintage said the event isn’t affiliated with Chanel the fashion house.
— Nina Jones