New York Times chairman weighs in on Boston Globe
NEW YORK (AP) — Weighing in for the first time on the future of The Boston Globe, New York Times Co. Chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr. said Thursday he hopes to cut the newspaper’s expenses enough to avoid having to shut it down.
“We hope to place this great newspaper on a path to sustainability,” Sulzberger said at the Times Co. annual shareholder meeting. He batted away specific questions on the Globe’s fate.
The recession — and the advertising downturn that began at many newspapers years before — have pushed the Globe deep into the red. The newspaper had an operating loss of $50 million last year and is on track for a loss of $85 million in 2009.
That has prompted the Times Co., which bought the Globe in 1993, to threaten to pull the plug on the newspaper if it can’t get employee unions to agree to concessions that would cut the company’s annual expenses by $20 million.
“Of all our properties, The Boston Globe has been most dramatically affected by the secular and cyclical forces that are roiling the entire media industry,” Sulzberger said. “More needs to be done to align the Globe’s costs and revenues.”
Times executives have not specified the Globe’s costs or explained how $20 million in concessions can save a newspaper losing more money than that. The Globe’s management this week rejected a proposal from union officials that negotiations be held publicly.
The idea that Boston could lose the 137-year-old newspaper has provoked angry reactions. Employees, union representatives and civic leaders are expected at a rally for the Globe at Fanueil Hall in Boston on Friday afternoon.
Meanwhile, some Times Co. shareholders expressed frustration with the decline in the company’s stock. Shares have fallen from a 2002 peak of over $50 to about $5.
David Norton, the company’s senior vice president for human resources, pointed out that executives are being paid less this year than last, after not having a salary raise in “multiple years.”
In response to a question about whether the Times Co. board had any plans to buy out shareholders, Sulzberger said “we have no plans to take this company private.”
The meeting came two days after the company reported a first-quarter loss of $74.5 million. With advertisers continuing to pull back, revenue dropped 19 percent in the first quarter, and Chief Executive Janet Robinson said the current quarter looks about as bleak.
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