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Tough Times at The New York Times

The rise in print and digital circulation revenue was not enough to offset a rise in operating costs and losses in advertising in the third quarter.

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TOUGH TIMES: In July, The New York Times revealed a 13 percent bump in digital subscriptions for the second quarter. Those numbers have continued to rise — on Thursday, the daily said it now had 566,00 paid digital subscribers, an 11 percent increase since the summer.

But the rise in circulation revenue — about 7 percent — was not enough to offset a rise in operating costs and losses in advertising, in print and digital, which, combined, decreased nearly 9 percent.

The third-quarter results were sobering — 6 cents a share below analysts’ expectations. But it reflects a broader trend across the newspaper industry. Times chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr. attributed the weak report to “a challenging advertising environment.”

RELATED STORY: China Blocks NY Times Site Over Report >>

The optics of the day were unfortunate. Times stock took a beating, while Sulzberger himself was getting hammered on two corners — just on Wednesday, he got another letter from staffers over stalled negotiations with the Newspaper Guild. New Times incoming chief executive officer Mark Thompson is under increasing pressure over his involvement in a growing scandal involving the late BBC personality Jimmy Savile. Thompson was director general of the public network when it canceled an investigation into Savile’s alleged sexual abuse crimes.

He has denied any wrong-doing, and Sulzberger was put on the spot of having to tell reporters in a letter that Thompson “possesses high ethical standards.” He did not address the guild negotiations.

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