‘New York Times' likely to resort to layoffs

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New York—The New York Times will likely resort to layoffs to meet its goal of reducing the newsroom staff by 100, according to an internal memo obtained by Politico. The memo was issued Friday by the newspaper's executive editor, Bill Keller.

The Times had hoped to meet its headcount-reduction goal through voluntary buyouts; but, as of Friday, not enough staffers had opted for the buyouts, Keller wrote in the memo. The buyout deadline is Monday. “Each buyout we record before next Tuesday reduces the number of layoffs we will have to seek,” Keller wrote in the memo.

In other news, News Corp. and four magazine publishers—Condé Nast, Hearst Corp., Meredith and Time Inc.—Tuesday formally announced plans to develop open standards for a new digital storefront and e-readers and other portable devices. The venture has been described as print's answer to Hulu and iTunes. The effort is designed to increase online revenue for publishers from paid content, advertising and print subscription sales.

This group of publishers reaches an unduplicated audience of 144.6 million readers, according to Mediamark Research & Intelligence data.

John Squires is the venture's interim managing director. “For the consumer, this digital initiative will provide access to an extraordinary selection of engaging content products, all customized for easy download on the device of their choice, including smartphones, e-readers and laptops,” Squires said in a statement. “Once purchased, this content will be ‘unlocked' for consumers to enjoy anywhere, anytime, on any platform.”

The venture will be open to other publishers beyond the five original equity partners.

The New York Times Co. Tuesday issued some guidance about its fourth-quarter performance ahead of a presentation at a UBS conference.

The company expects its print advertising revenue to fall about 25% in the current quarter compared with the same period last year, according to President-CEO Janet L. Robinson. However, digital advertising is anticipated to increase 10% and circulation revenue to be up 2%.

“The Times company continues to restructure for the future. With our many initiatives to operate more efficiently and effectively across our businesses, our cost performance has remained strong and we are on track to achieve approximately $475 million in savings this year. And we have made significant progress in reducing our debt level, with total debt expected to be approximately $800 million at year-end, including well below $50 million under our revolving credit facility, down from $1.1 billion at the end of 2008," Robinson said in a statement.

Dave Novosel, analyst at Gimme Credit, offered this assessment of Times Co. in a report issued Tuesday: "Revenue and margins are declining in a weak advertising environment. Much of the problem is secular as opposed to cyclical, suggesting a rebound will prove challenging."

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