By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Globe ad revenues down more than 30 percent

The New York Times Co.’s demand that the Boston Globe’s unions come up with $20 million in concessions may have gotten a boost this morning, as the company reported that advertising revenues at its New England Media Group — the Globe, and the Worcester Telegram & Gazette — are down 31.6 percent.

According to the Times Co.’s latest filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, advertising revenues at the New England group for the first quarter of 2009 were a shade under $55.7 million. Overall, revenues for the group were nearly $104.5 million, a drop of 20.6 percent from the first quarter of 2008.

Though the Times Co. does not break out separate numbers for the Worcester paper, they are thought to be a small proportion of the New England group’s overall income and expenses.

One interesting aspect of the report is that the Globe does not stand out as a particular drag on the company. Ad revenues are down 27.3 percent at the New York Times Media Group (the Times and and 29.3 percent at the Regional Media Group, which comprises smaller papers, mainly in the South.

Yes, things are worse in New England, but not by that much. So if folks at the Globe are inclined to feel that New York is picking on them, this may give them some ammunition.

Overall, this is pretty ugly. The Times Co. lost $74.5 million during the first quarter, compared to just $335,000 a year ago. Times Co. CEO Janet Robinson predicts a miserable second quarter as well.

“In time, however, we believe that the economy will grow and the advertising market will improve,” Robinson said in a prepared statement, according to the Associated Press. “While we are looking forward to that day, we are not waiting for it.”

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  1. Fresco

    Are there any US newspapers profitable today?

  2. acf

    Fresco: Good question. Also, how do the revenue drops compare to other segments of today’s economy, and how much of the NYT/Globe figures are due to the economy versus the business model issues facing the newspaper industry?

  3. io saturnalia!

    If newspapers go away, where will news Web sites get their content? Besides just making things up, that is.

  4. NewsHound

    Fresco – there are marginally profitable newspapers. They have strong circulation in their markets and sell advertising at rates that perform for their customers. It is rather simple. They don’t pay their CEO millions, and they clearly understand they are in the advertising business and that news supports advertising, not advertising to support news. And, oh yes, not far from Boston, either.It can be done easier, too, without tremendous debt obligations and unfunded former employee liabilities.

  5. Phil Gallagher

    Dan, Even if they get 20 million in concessions that is not nearly enough to stop the bleeding. The Globe union should get going on an employee buyout now or when the paper gets in bankruptcy court. My how the mighty have fallen!

  6. acf

    If the print edition of a newspaper goes away, leaving its online sibling as the sole outlet for its reporting, the end result will likely be a faint shadow of its former self, hardly worth the name or effort. Online revenues are a small percentage of print papers. What makes online papers work is the fact that they are taking advantage of the reporting and reputations of the older print versions, just reproducing the content. Once the print edition disappears, taking with it most of its revenues, the online version will not be able to pay for the stable of researchers, writers, and editors to produce its own content. Will it be worth it? I don’t think so, unless they can seriously increase revenues.

  7. David Rogers

    the globe is already a shadow of itself. I am ready to embrace an online only version with sports blogs, video movie reviews and updated versions of breaking news stories throughout the day. Much better than what we’re seeing in print these days…

  8. Nial Liszt

    **If newspapers go away, where will news Web sites get their content?**Associated Google and Yahoo Press International? The news organization as loss leader.

  9. bob gardner

    Newshound, can you name some of these profitable papers? Also, if we are to believe the numbers we’ve been given, the last Globe published should be Sunday, May 3, by my rough calculations. So we should know the answer by then.

  10. NewsHound

    Bob Gardner – I anticipated someone might ask that question and I’d be put in the position of explaining that I am not in a position to reveal specifics. As such, no one should be expected to believe anything not substantiated.To generalize though, newspapers in which much of the news is contributed by members of the community that are distributed free with advertising rates priced to be cost effective, are doing okay even in this climate. Some paid circulation newspapers, too, in particular newspapers that focus predominately on one community, are doing okay. Many of those newspapers have almost always struggled along and succeeded by passionate, sacrificing publisher – editors.As for individual daily newspapers such as the Boston Herald, The Cape Cod Times, and maybe at least a few of GateHouse nameplates such as Fall River and Quincy possibly, (absent of debt interest) I suspect, are holding up in this recession, but I certainly don’t have the numbers and if I did I wouldn’t be the one to reveal although I would share if in the public domain.Perhaps like you, I’ll believe The Globe has discontinued publishing only after I see it happen. I suppose there is no sense continuing if there is no way they can anticipate a future return to recover from this recession. Such conclusion is not unreasonable. The Globe has evolved into an enterprise that will be very expensive for owners to bring down to survivable economics because of contracts, benefits and other habits that are probably impossible to penetrate while publishing, and once the paper stops that usually is pretty much the end.

  11. Bill H.

    Not being someone who follows the news business religiously, can someone tell me if the present newspaper crisis is a largely U.S. problem, or is it global? And also, are there any foreign business models that may prove useful to U.S. papers?

  12. Daniels Schoolboy

    Mr Bill – the Brits, at least, are also hurting. See this: summary: Revenues down, ads migrating to the web, local papers shutting their doors.

  13. abass

    Dan: Two thoughts on your blog yesterday: one, as far back as the mid-90s, Susan and Alex Tift-Jones, in their excellent book on the New York Times, “The Trust” wrote that the Times had a “habit of bleeding its regional papers to support the mother ship.” And it’s been doing to The Globe ever since it purchased the paper in 1993. And it’s still doing it. That said, I do believe The Globe does need to make some union concessions in order to survive. Secondly, I’d like to see someone — maybe you? — dig into the financial relationship between Murdoch and Purcell. It’s my hunch that Murdoch has helped support The Herald and keep it alive all these years. Wolff probably knows that but given how much he is in thrall to Murdoch, he’s not reporting those facts.

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