May 17, 2021

AOL to Cut Up to 500 Jobs at Local News Service

The cuts were an effort to reach profitability in a division that has failed to gain traction with consumers and has suffered huge losses financially. Patch’s troubles have been a source of frustration for AOL’s chief executive, Tim Armstrong, who helped found the service in 2007 when he was an executive at Google. Shortly after arriving at AOL in 2009, Mr. Armstrong had the company acquire Patch.

Patch’s idea is to provide an online network of local news sites, filling the gap in coverage left by newspapers that have either closed or greatly scaled back their investment in reporting in response to declines in advertising revenue.

The company said it had analyzed the performance of the approximately 900 Patch sites and identified about 60 percent as high-performing ones that should remain intact. AOL said it would look for partners to operate 20 percent of the sites that are considered viable, and it would close or consolidate the rest. At its current staffing, Patch has more than 1,000 employees.

“Patch’s strategy will be to focus resources against core sites and partner in sites that need additional resources,” AOL said in a statement. “Additionally, there are sites that we will be consolidating or closing.”

The statement added: “Patch has become an important brand across many towns in America. The Patch team across the country has served and will continue to serve communities with journalism and technology platforms. Unfortunately, with these changes we are announcing today, we will be reducing a substantial number of Patch positions.”

Some investors, skeptical that Patch can succeed, have urged AOL to dump the service altogether. The company has told analysts that it expects Patch to be profitable by the fourth quarter of this year.

Mr. Armstrong has said he is confident in Patch’s potential. The company says that the service has 3.5 million newsletter subscribers and 4.7 million registered users, increases of 138 percent and 181 percent in a year-over-year comparison. It says that between April and June, Patch had a 10 percent increase in traffic compared with the same period in 2012.

Patch’s troubles were the backdrop for an embarrassing episode for Mr. Armstrong last week. During a conference call with Patch employees, he became angry with an executive who was videotaping the proceedings and fired him on the spot, as employees listened. He apologized on Tuesday for the manner of the firing.

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Facebook Beats Expectations on Strong Mobile Growth

The company said it had net income of $333 milion, or 13 cents a share. Excluding stock-based compensation expenses, profits were $488 million or 19 cents a share, compared to 12 cents a share in the second quarter a year ago. Revenue soared 53 percent to $1.8 billion.

“We’ve made good progress growing our community, deepening engagement and delivering strong financial results, especially on mobile,” Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder and chief executive officer, said in a statement. “The work we’ve done to make mobile the best Facebook experience is showing good results and provides us with a solid foundation for the future.”

The company’s results show that its users are continuing to shift toward mobile phones and tablets to access the site instead of a computer’s Web browser. Although the company’s total number of active monthly users worldwide grew slightly from the first quarter to 1.15 billion, the number of people who use its mobile versions at least once a month grew 9 percent to 819 million in that time.

Of total advertising revenue, 41 percent came from mobile, up from 30 percent in the first quarter.

Users’ preference for accessing Facebook on the go has created unique revenue opportunities, such as ads that prompt users to install mobile apps like games. But advertisers are generally willing to pay much less for a mobile ad than they are for the desktop.

The company’s sharp revenue growth reflects increased competition among advertisers to reach Facebook’s large user base, said Rob Jewell, president of Spruce Media, a firm that helps advertisers like McDonald’s and the insurer Progressive to buy ads on the social network and measure their effectiveness.

Facebook’s ad rates are generally set through a bidding process, and Mr. Jewell said that his clients paid about 10 percent more on average for ads in the second quarter than in the first quarter. Ads in the news feed, both on the desktop and mobile versions of Facebook, were in particularly high demand, with rates up about 75 percent from the first quarter for both categories.

“Facebook is the best channel for mobile app advertisers to purchase advertising,” Mr. Jewell said.

In the second quarter of 2012, the company reported a net loss of $743 million, or 8 cents a share. But that figure included $1.3 billion in compensation expenses related to the company’s initial public offering. Excluding such one-time items, the company’s profit a year ago was $295 million, or 12 cents a share, and its revenue was $1.2 billion.

Wall Street analysts were expecting the company to report earnings of 14 cents a share on revenues of $1.62 billion, according to a survey by Thomson Reuters.

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Video-on-Demand Viewing Is Gaining Popularity

Glittery, those three letters are not. VOD rarely gets media attention, partly because of past missteps by cable and satellite providers.

But more and more TV episodes and movies are becoming available through the on-demand systems that cable subscribers can tune in with their set-top boxes. Some shows, like Fox’s “The Following” and ABC’s “Scandal,” now gain hundreds of thousands of viewers every week because of VOD, part of a decades-long shift from television on a linear schedule to television on viewers’ own terms.

“On-demand isn’t always the shiniest new technology. But we are seeing tremendous growth,” said Matthew Strauss, who oversees digital strategy for Comcast, the nation’s largest cable company.

Some providers, Comcast among them, see VOD as a low-key savior — a way, albeit one of many, to make programming more accessible while keeping customers tethered to their cable subscriptions.

Some television networks are also big believers in the technology because it can help partially piece back together their splintered audiences and protect their advertising revenue. Fast-forwarding can be, and often is, disabled by the cable providers, giving advertisers confidence that their commercials are being seen.

This is “crucial,” said Toby Byrne, the president for advertising sales at Fox. Video-on-demand “will hopefully replace some digital video recorder viewing, where fast-forwarding is enabled,” he said.

Mr. Byrne talked up VOD at Fox’s annual upfront presentation for advertisers in New York last Monday, as did his counterpart at ABC, Geri Wang, at her network’s presentation a day later.

In an interview, Ms. Wang said cable VOD now accounts for 3 percent of the prime-time audience that ABC sells to advertisers. That’s because this TV season, for the first time, Nielsen counted VOD views of ABC’s shows the same way it counts digital video recorder playback — that is, within three days of an episode’s premiere.

To count, though, the same ads that were shown on television have to be attached to the on-demand version of the episode. So ABC does that until the fourth day, when it substitutes a different, sometimes shorter set of ads. Two-thirds of the VOD views of its shows happen after that point.

“For the viewers and for our buyers and clients, there has not been, I think, enough attention around this,” Ms. Wang said.

The VOD story is partly one of missed opportunities. Comcast, for instance, introduced on-demand capabilities a decade ago. But for years its system, and the ones promoted by other providers, was cumbersome to use and lacked a critical mass of hit shows. (HBO, which supplied a wide selection of its shows early on, was the exception.) For prime-time viewing, VOD became an afterthought in the minds of many consumers and channel owners.

But the technology caught on in other areas, like movie rentals, children’s shows and music videos. And in the last few years cable providers have made concerted efforts to lock up prime-time programming, especially from the broadcast networks; they say their on-demand libraries need to have a consistent number of episodes, preferably a season’s worth for each show, so viewers have enough trust in VOD that they skip the digital video recorder.

There are signs that this strategy is working. This television season, VOD views of ABC’s shows are up 32 percent versus the same period last season, according to the network. “If viewers objected to not having fast-forwarding capabilities, our episode starts wouldn’t be up 32 percent,” Ms. Wang said.

Over all, Mr. Strauss of Comcast said that the company’s subscribers watch 400 million hours of programming on demand each month. Its subscribers use the DVR less than the national average of 45 percent of cable subscribers nationwide who use one, a statistic the company credits to its on-demand offerings and an improving interface through which to access those offerings.

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Cable Channels Lift News Corp.’s Profit

Net income at News Corporation climbed to $2.85 billion, or $1.22 a share, compared with $937 million, or 38 cents a share, in the same period last year, the company reported on Wednesday. Revenue increased by 14 percent, to $9.54 billion, largely on the strength of an 11 percent increase from domestic television affiliates and a 2 percent increase in advertising revenue at its cable channels, which include FX and Fox News.

News Corporation is expected to complete a split of its entertainment assets and publishing divisions into two publicly traded companies by the end of its fiscal year this summer. But the company’s third-quarter results already read as if they came from two distinct companies, with the publishing assets dragging on overall profits.

That division, which includes The Wall Street Journal, The New York Post and HarperCollins, had a $45 million decrease in operating income compared with the same period a year ago, largely because of weakness at the company’s Australian newspapers. The company’s cable channels reported an increase of 17 percent, or $147 million, in operating income, to $993 million.

FX, with original series like “The Americans,” about Russian spies hiding in plain sight in suburban America, and National Geographic both reported double-digit growth in advertising revenue.

Rupert Murdoch, chairman and chief executive of News Corporation, said in a statement that the company was on track to complete the split. “I am more confidant than ever of the long-term value the separation will unlock for the company and its shareholders,” Mr. Murdoch said.

Earnings reflected $25 million in costs related to the proposed separation, which will create two companies. One will be called 21st Century Fox and will include Fox Broadcasting, FX and the Hollywood studio; the other, smaller company will retain the name News Corporation and will include newspapers and a handful of Australian pay television assets.

The company spent $42 million on costs related to the closure of The News of the World, the British tabloid that was shut nearly two years ago after reports emerged that reporters had hacked into the cellphone of a murdered schoolgirl.

The entertainment company, 21st Century Fox, will face its own challenges. Operating income increased by 15 percent at Fox Broadcasting to $196 million, in large part because the fees cable and satellite operators pay to carry the station nearly doubled. But the network reported lower national and local advertising attributable to declines at “American Idol,” now in its 12th season.

In the third quarter, the company’s movie studio reported $289 million in operating income, up from $272 million last year, mostly because of the success of “Life of Pi.”

News Corporation pointed to a decline in quarterly advertising revenues at Fox News, saying that they suffered in comparison to last year because there were no presidential primaries this time. Still, Chase Carey, president and chief operating officer at News Corporation, said: “Fox News has been a success story second to none.”

The coming Fox Sports 1 channel has garnered attention from Wall Street analysts who expect it to compete with ESPN. Mr. Carey said sports were the “driving force” behind the company’s channels business, but he also said that sports should not “cloud the importance” of Fox News, FX and other channels.

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The New York Times Company Reports a Drop in Profit

Amid the ongoing changes in the industry, the company also announced plans to introduce lower-cost subscription models, part of a broader growth strategy detailed on Thursday.

The company is remaking itself in the face of the struggles in both print and online advertising. In the first quarter, net income was $3.1 million, or 2 cents a share, down from $42.1 million, or 28 cents a share, in the period a year earlier. Income from continuing operations declined to $3.1 million from $8.7 million a year earlier.

Total revenue from the quarter declined 2 percent to $465.9 million. Over all, the company’s advertising revenue declined 11.2 percent to $191.2 million from $215.5 million. Print advertising at the company’s newspapers, which include The New York Times, The Boston Globe and The International Herald Tribune, shrank 13.3 percent. Digital advertising revenue declined 4 percent.

In a continuing bright spot for the company, circulation revenue grew by 6.5 percent as The New York Times stepped up its digital subscription initiatives and raised prices for its print edition. The number of paid subscribers to the Web site, e-reader and other digital editions of The Times and The International Herald Tribune grew to 676,000, a jump of almost 49 percent from the same quarter the year before. Digital subscriptions to The Boston Globe and rose more than 50 percent compared to the same time the year before, to 32,000 subscribers.

“Our first-quarter results reflect our continued strides in reshaping The New York Times Company,” Mark Thompson, the company’s president and chief executive officer, said in a statement. “We will be rolling out other strategic initiatives designed to further leverage The Times brand and newsroom to create new products and services for a wider range of customers, domestically and around the globe.”

At the same time the company released its quarterly earnings, it unveiled more details about a growth strategy that it will introduce in the fourth quarter of this year and early next year. Mr. Thompson said that the company planned to provide more varied subscription plans that would allow readers to pay less for access to “The Times’s most important and interesting stories” or to content in politics, arts or food. For avid readers of The New York Times, a premium subscription would include services like access to events at The Times. The company also plans to get more involved in brand extensions, like games and e-commerce, and growing its conference business to bring in more revenue.

“We want to deepen our relationship with our existing loyal customers, but we also want to use a wider family of New York Times products to reach new customers both here and around the world,” said Mr. Thompson. “The initiatives we are announcing today should be seen as a significant first step in our effort to put The New York Times Company on a path to sustainable growth.”

In recent years, the company has been trying to pare down its assets to focus exclusively on its flagship, The New York Times. In 2012, the company sold its regional newspapers to Halifax Media Holdings. It also sold its remaining stake in the Fenway Sports Group. In the fourth quarter, the company benefited from a $164.6 million gain for selling the company’s stake in, a jobs search engine, and the sale of About Group, the online resource company, for $300 million.

The sales are expected to continue. In February, the company announced plans to sell the New England Media Group, which includes The Globe,, The Worcester Telegram Gazette and Globe Direct, a direct-mail marketing company. Days later, the company said it would rename The International Herald Tribune as The International New York Times and said it planned to introduce a redesigned Web site that catered to international audiences. The rebranding is expected to happen in the fourth quarter of this year.

Times executives said they remain hopeful that the economy will pick up later this year. The company expects total circulation revenues to grow by the mid-single digits in the second quarter. Total advertising revenue should improve as well, the company projected.

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Aereo Has TV Networks Circling the Wagons

Mr. Kanojia had come to Washington to sell lawmakers and reporters on the virtues of his upstart service, Aereo, which scoops up the free signals of local television stations and streams them to the phones and computers of paying subscribers. Because Aereo cuts off the stations from the retransmission fees that they have grown to depend on, they are determined to shut down the service — even, the station owners say, if they have to take their signals off the airwaves to do so.

Mr. Carey’s suggestion was dismissed by some as a hollow threat intended to scare the courts — which have ruled twice in favor of Aereo so far — and perhaps prod Congressional action. It is, at best, a far-fetched outcome. But it revealed a lot about the state of broadcasting, which appears increasingly antiquated in an age when wireless companies like ATT and Verizon — instead of TV stations — are snapping up spectrum and using it to deliver Internet services like Aereo.

The networks aren’t just concerned about Aereo, which has a tiny following, but about copycats. “It’s Aereo today, but it could be something else tomorrow,” said Robin Flynn, a senior analyst at SNL Kagan.

For several decades companies that were lucky enough to own licenses for local TV stations thrived on advertising revenue alone, and because there was relatively little competition they enjoyed huge audiences and profit margins to match.

As cable and then the Internet introduced new competitors, station owners began to rely on a second revenue source, the so-called retransmission fees that come from the cable and satellite operators that pick up their signals and repackage them for subscribers. Now that they’ve had a taste of these fees, the stations aren’t willing — or able, they say — to go back to the old model of advertising alone.

SNL Kagan estimates that station owners took in $2.36 billion in retransmission fees from subscribers last year. (Some of that money is pocketed by owners, while a portion is paid to the network that the station is affiliated with, like Fox or CBS. Each of the networks also owns some stations outright.)

The research firm projects the fee revenues to hit $6 billion by 2018. The trend lines for broadcasters are similar to those in the newspaper business — subscribers are paying a bigger and bigger piece of the overall cost of content creation.

That’s why the stations are doing battle with Aereo, because it doesn’t pay any fees, the same way antenna users do not. News Corporation, the Walt Disney Company, Comcast, the CBS Corporation and Univision, all of which own stations in New York, sued Aereo shortly after the service was announced last year, accusing it of copyright infringement. But the media giants failed to win a preliminary injunction against the service last summer, and their appeals were rejected last week in a 2-to-1 decision in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York.

Aereo’s success in court could embolden cable and satellite providers to do their own end-runs around retransmission fees. So now the station owners are plotting their next moves.

“We won’t just sit idle and allow our content to be actively stolen,” Mr. Carey said after speaking on stage at the National Association of Broadcasters conference in Las Vegas. “It is clear that the broadcast business needs a dual revenue stream from both ad and subscription to be viable.” If the revenue from retransmission fees starts to erode, he said, “one option could be converting the Fox broadcast network to a pay channel”

“It sounds like an idle threat,” said John Bergmayer, a senior staff lawyer for Public Knowledge, a public interest group in Washington. Mr. Bergmayer called Mr. Carey’s comments “probably just part of an opening gambit to Congress,” noting that the broadcasters could press for a change to copyright law that would effectively choke Aereo out of existence.

Mr. Carey’s comments also seemed meant to reassure affiliates. “He made clear that moving to a cable network isn’t their preference,” Ms. Flynn said.

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Hungarian News Media Fight Laws of Silence

Mr. Bolgar, a gentlemanly Rush Limbaugh of the left, opined that the rightist party of Prime Minister Viktor Orban was undermining the national currency, imposing a nonsensical “weather forecast” tax on broadcasters, and muzzling the news media. Listeners accused the government of being power hungry and vengeful.

“Orban is very clever, but very evil,” a listener said. “We’re dealing with arrogance on such a scale here that Mount Everest is a molehill in comparison.”

Such mudslinging would seem a healthy sign of a free and vibrant news media in this former Communist country, except that Klubradio has found itself at the center of what its director, Andras Arato, calls a government-backed war to weaken and silence the station.

The clash has become emblematic of what critics call a bald attempt by the Orban government to tighten its grip on the news media, the judiciary, the central bank and education, and the inability of the European Union, which Hungary joined in 2004, to restrain a government not cleaving to the bloc’s democratic standards.

For two years, Hungary’s news media council, which hands out radio frequencies and is stacked with Mr. Orban’s supporters, refused to renew Klubradio’s long-term frequency, despite three court rulings in the station’s favor. Instead, it initially awarded Klubradio’s frequency to an unknown broadcaster that then mysteriously disappeared.

The regulator consistently came up with seemingly spurious arguments to avoid granting the license, Mr. Arato said, including deeming Klubradio’s application invalid because the blank back pages were not signed. The broadcaster operated for two years on two-month licenses, bleeding cash because the uncertainty scared away advertisers. Advertising revenue plummeted to $10,000 a month from $200,000 in 2008, and today the station is barely scraping by.

Late last week — after the fourth court ruling, a grass-roots campaign by thousands of listeners and mounting international pressure — the council finally backed down and awarded Klubradio the long-term frequency.

“The government doesn’t like to hear any criticism,” Mr. Arato said. “So it tried to starve us to death.”

Among the biggest concerns to Mr. Orban’s critics is a restrictive news media law, which has come under criticism from the European Commission, the Council of Europe and press watchdog groups for giving the governing party excessive control over the regulation of news media outlets.

The government has responded by revising the law, including a provision that would have given police officials the power to demand the name of a journalist’s source.

Journalists remain wary, but opinion is also divided as to how seriously anyone can muzzle the news media in the age of Twitter and Facebook.

“Under Communism, there was one state channel, and the government could stop it,” said Akos Balogh, editor in chief of Mandiner, a liberal Web site. “But now if you try and block anything, it will just come out some other way. So the reaction to the media laws is as exaggerated as the law itself.”

Mr. Orban, a charismatic father of five whose bold call for the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Hungary in 1989 made him a regional hero, is now being recast as an authoritarian intent on eroding the checks and balances of democratic government. Since coming to power in 2010 with a two-thirds majority, he has adroitly tapped into widespread discontent with a post-1989 order that many Hungarians feel has failed to deliver on its promises.

Last week, Mr. Orban’s party, Fidesz, defied warnings from the European Union and the U.S. State Department and pushed through an amendment to a new Fidesz-drafted constitution that, among other things, discards the rulings of the constitutional court made before 2012.

That move followed Mr. Orban’s appointment in early March of a close ally to head the central bank, his former economics minister, Gyorgy Matolcsy; the decision raised concerns that the bank would become open to political interference.

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Local TV News Is Following Print’s Path, Study Says

With shorter stories and scarce coverage of politics and government, local television newscasts in the United States, like local newspapers before them, are suffering from “shrinking pains,” according to the Pew Research Center.

The diagnosis comes in the center’s 10th annual State of the News Media report, which will be published on Monday. The report, covering 2012, describes cutbacks in the reporting ranks of newspapers and television networks and a surge in efforts by politicians, corporations and others to tell their own stories.

“This adds up to a news industry that is more undermanned and unprepared to uncover stories, dig deep into emerging ones or to question information put into its hands,” the report’s main author, Amy Mitchell, wrote in an introduction.

The report also highlighted the results of a new Pew survey that asked Americans whether they had heard much about the financial challenges that the news industry faces, like the steep decline in newspaper advertising revenue.

Sixty percent of the respondents said they had heard little or nothing, indicating that “awareness of the industry’s financial struggles is limited,” the report said. But some have sensed the results: 31 percent of respondents said they “have stopped turning to a news outlet because it no longer provided them with the news they were accustomed to getting.”

The report’s authors did find, as in prior years, a robust public appetite for news. Digital news sources are now used daily by 50 percent of Americans, according to Pew’s survey, making the Internet nearly as important a source as television. Mobile phones and tablets were mostly responsible for the surge in digital news consumption.

Computers and mobile phones, of course, redistribute news from television, radio and newspapers. But cutbacks at many of these traditional sources continued in 2012, Pew found.

The report’s authors cited an estimate from Rick Edmonds, a media business analyst at The Poynter Institute, of newspaper newsroom employment that dipped below 40,000 last year, to the industry’s lowest level since 1978. They decided to dig deep into television news coverage, partly because it has escaped the scrutiny focused on newspapers in recent years. They found that local television stations have increased their reliance on three main topics — weather, traffic and sports.

The researchers sampled the newscasts in four markets (Bend, Ore.; Houston; Milwaukee; and Pittsburgh) and compared their findings with a similar study of three of the markets in 2005. Back then, there were more taped stories and interviews; now there are more live reports from reporters in the field. The report called this a sign that “there is less in-depth journalism being produced.”

Only 20 percent of the stories in the 2012 sample were more than a minute long. Segments about weather, traffic and sports ate up 40 percent of local newscasts’ time, up from 32 percent in 2005, even though this kind of information “is now available on demand in a variety of digital platforms,” the report said.

Stories about government and politics in the markets that were sampled fell by more than half, to 3 percent of the broadcasts from 7 percent in 2005. There was also a marked decline in the percentage of stories about crime, to 17 percent from 29 percent. The volume of economic stories rose to 8 percent, from 3 percent, perhaps, the report’s authors said, because of the fragile state of the economy.

Nielsen ratings show that the audiences for local television newscasts in 2012 declined, albeit slightly, versus the prior year. The medium remains a top source of news overall, though.

Pew’s researchers didn’t find the same kinds of changes to network news programming that it found locally; in fact, they were struck by how little had changed about the big three network nightly newscasts since 2007, the last time they studied them. However, a lot had changed on the three major cable news channels, which have become more politically oriented in the last five years, the study found. Daytime programs on cable news increasingly resembled prime-time talk shows, the report said, adding that “interview segments are now as prominent in daytime cable as they are in prime time.”

As for newspapers, Pew followed up on a prediction in last year’s report that more news organizations would require customers to pay for full access to their Web sites. The number of daily newspapers doing so has more than doubled since then, according to Monday’s report, to about 450. (That figure, out of 1,380 daily newspapers across the country, included the newspapers that have announced such plans as well as the ones that have actually started.)

“This is already helping rebalance the print industry’s heavy reliance on advertising over subscription revenue,” the report said, adding that digital advertising for newspapers “grew only at an anemic 3 percent rate in 2012.”

The report also identified a split in digital advertising. While the news industry “continues to lose out,” it said, “on the bulk of new digital advertising,” some outlets are seeing growth from sponsored content. An online twist on “advertorials” of old, these ad units appear within a publication’s Web page and are often called “native ads.”

“Traditional publications such as The Atlantic and Forbes, as well as digital publications BuzzFeed and Gawker, have relied on native ads to quickly build digital ad revenues, and their use is expected to spread,” the report said.

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Media Decoder Blog: New York Times Company Plans to Sell The Boston Globe

The New York Times Company plans to sell The Boston Globe and other New England properties, allowing the media company to focus energy and resources on its flagship newspaper.

The Times Company announced Wednesday that it had retained Evercore Partners to manage the sale of the New England Media Group, anchored by The Globe,, The Worcester Telegram Gazette and GlobeDirect, a direct mail marketing company.

Mark Thompson, president and chief executive of the Times Company, called The Globe and the Worcester Telegram Gazette “outstanding newspapers,” but in a statement he said selling the newspapers “demonstrates our commitment to concentrate our strategic focus and investment on The New York Times brand and its journalism.”

The Times Company has in recent years sold assets unrelated to The Times. In May, the company received $63 million for its remaining stake in the Fenway Sports Group, the company that owns the Boston Red Sox. Last year, the company sold its 16 regional newspapers, including The Gainesville Sun and The Sarasota Herald Tribune, to Halifax Media Holdings for $143 million.

The Times paid $1.1 billion for The Globe in 1993 and for years the Boston daily brought prestige and profits to the company. But recently the newspaper has suffered in an industrywide decline in circulation and advertising revenue. The paper’s circulation has diminished by nearly half in the last decade to a weekday readership of 230,351, from 438,621 in 2002.

Digital subscriptions to The Boston Globe and grew by 8 percent, to about 28,000 subscribers in the company’s fourth quarter.

The Times Company is expected to seek a purchaser in an auction, but in a press release said “there can be no assurance that any transaction will take place.”

Suitors have approached the Times Company about purchasing The Globe in the past. In 2009, the company turned down a local investment group’s bid of around $35 million and the assumption of pension obligations for The Globe and The Worcester Telegram Gazette.

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Media Decoder: Times Co. in Talks to Sell Regional Newspapers

1:12 p.m. | Updated The New York Times Company, which last week announced that its chief executive would depart at the end of the year, is close to selling its regional newspapers to the Halifax Media Group, the company announced Monday.

The Times Company’s Regional Media Group consists of 16 newspapers and related Web sites in places like Tuscaloosa, Ala., and Petaluma, Calif. Combined, the local papers have a Monday-to-Friday circulation of 433,251 and 1,755 full-time employees.

The company’s Boston Globe and have endured buyouts and staff reductions to cut budgets, but they are not among the regional news organizations being sold.

The company’s regional newspapers, which include The Sarasota Herald-Tribune and The Gainesville Sun, accounted for 11 percent of the Times’s $2.4 billion in revenue in 2010. Even as optimism for the digital plan at its The New York Times newspaper has grown, the regional publications have dragged, the steady decline driven by a lack of classified ads and a migration of readers to the Web.

From 2008 to 2009 advertising revenue at the Regional Media Group fell 30.2 percent, to $193 million. Ad revenue fell another 8.2 percent in 2010 to $177 million, according to the company’s 2010 annual report. Classified ads make up 28 percent of the advertisements in the Times Company’s regional papers.

The Daytona Beach, Fla.-based Halifax Media Group owns The Daytona-Beach News Journal, five other news organizations in Florida and other newspapers across the south. On Monday morning, the Halifax Group’s Web site listed all of the Times Company’s regional papers as its own, tipping off the media blogger Jim Romenesko.

On Thursday, the Times Company announced the departure of Janet L. Robinson, who had served as chief executive since 2004. She will continue to consult for the company, earning $4.5 million, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The Times Company has divested itself of assets as it tries to focus on its anchor newspapers, The New York Times, The Boston Globe and The International Herald Tribune. In July, the company sold more than half of its stake in the Fenway Sports Group, the owner of the Boston Red Sox, for $117 million.

A Times spokesman, Robert H. Christie, declined to comment.

This post has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: December 19, 2011

Because of an editing error, an earlier version of this article misspelled the surname of the blogger Jim Romenesko as Romanesko.

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