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Meanwhile, could 2008 be the year The New York Times Co. sells the Boston Globe? It's purely speculative, of course, but the question was raised by an analyst during Thursday's fourth-quarter and full-year earnings conference call. Robinson said the company doesn't comment on acquisitions and divestitures, but is constantly reviewing its portfolio. She added that new product development in online and print is being explored for the Globe this year.
As for the numbers, ad revenue in the News Media Group, which includes the Times, dropped 10.5 percent in the fourth quarter. Internet revenues for the year were 10.3 percent of total revenues, compared with 8.3 percent the prior year. In the fourth quarter, staff reduction costs were much higher, at $17.8 million, compared with $8.5 million during the same period in 2006. This year the company intends to save $130 million through cost cuts. Details were not provided.
As for the overall advertising environment for 2008, president and general manager of The New York Times Scott Heekin-Canedy said advertisers have built in "economic uncertainty" into their ad spending but added, in a "sweeping generalization," that no advertisers have factored a recession into their spending plans. He also reported that January was on par with December 2007, but he does not expect the ad spending "hesitance" that took place during the first few weeks of 2008 to continue. — Amy Wicks
RUPERT'S NEW TOY: Rupert Murdoch's British newspaper business News International has purchased its first standalone e-commerce site, BrandAlley.co.uk. The Web site is a subsidiary of Brandalley.com, a fashion site in France. BrandAlley.com provides member-only sales of branded retail goods. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, however Brandalley chief executive officer Sven Lung said he is targeting sales of approximately 100 million pounds, or about $200 million. — A.W.