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The New York Times to Sell New England Media Group

Mark Thompson, chief executive officer of the Times, said the sale underscores the company’s commitment to its flagship.

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GOODBYE, NEW ENGLAND: Like with Time Inc., it wasn’t ever a question of if but of when. On Wednesday, the New York Times finally put up a “For Sale” sign on the Boston Globe and the rest of the New England Media Group. In the last year, the Times has been trimming its fat and letting go of non-vital properties and investments. It’s sold its stake in the Boston Red Sox, its regional paper division, and About.com, its how-to reference site.

Mark Thompson, chief executive officer of the Times, said the sale underscores the company’s commitment to its flagship. Though the Globe has made progress with its two-year-old online pay wall — it counts 28,000 digital-only subscribers — it has not been enough to make up for significant losses in advertising revenues, and executives did not expect its digital readership to grow as quickly as the Times’ own.

“We see it as an incremental business,” said Jim Follo, chief financial officer during the Times’ earnings call two weeks ago.

Unlike the Times, which now makes more money from subscribers, the Globe’s bread and butter is still ads, and print revenue fell last year 7.8 percent to $183 million, according to Bloomberg. Circulation, which stands at about 230,000, is half of what it was a decade ago.

The Times said a sale could still fall through. An earlier attempt, in 2009, eventually was called off because it did not draw enough high bids. The Times bought the Globe in 1993 for $1.1 billion.

In August, it sold the About.com group, which cost $410 million, for $270 million.