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New York Times Says It Is in Talks to Sell Local Newspapers

Michael Golden of the New York Times Co.
Michael Golden, president of the New York Times Co. Regional Media Group. Photographer: Jin Lee/Bloomberg

New York Times Co., struggling with declining advertising sales, is in talks to sell its regional-newspaper unit to Halifax Media Holdings LLC.

Times Co.’s Regional Media Group unit consists of 16 newspapers, other print publications and related businesses, the company said today in a statement. The unit is managed by Chief Operating Officer Michael Golden, a cousin of Chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr.

Times Co. last week announced the retirement of Chief Executive Officer Janet Robinson. Its shares have fallen more than 80 percent since the end of 2004, as Robinson, like her peers in the newspaper industry, grappled with declining advertising and circulation as readers shifted to the Web.

The Regional Media Group, which includes the Press Democrat in Santa Rosa, California and the Tuscaloosa News in Alabama, posted $60 million in revenue in the third quarter, 11 percent of Times Co.’s overall sales. The unit’s sales have fallen 48 percent in the last five years.

Advertising in the Regional Media Group has declined every year since 2006 as circulation declined and readers switched to online publications. The division’s third quarter ad sales were $36.8 million, a 9.7 percent drop from a year ago, and circulation revenue was $18.3 million, down 1.5 percent.

Times Co. recorded a $152.1 million goodwill impairment charge for the Regional Media Group in the second quarter, according to a company filing.

Halifax Media is based in Daytona Beach, Florida and owns the Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Blogger Jim Romenesko first reported the news after seeing Times Co.’s regional newspapers listed on Halifax Media’s website.

Times Co. fell 2.3 percent to $7.19 at the close in New York. The shares have declined 27 percent this year.

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