‘New York Times’ Still Undecided on Pay Wall Model

By: Jennifer Saba

For those who wonder why The New York Times Co. has not yet made a decision on paid online content, Martin Nisenholtz had an answer Tuesday. The company’s senior vice president for digital operations responded that the stakes are extremely high for NYT.com, and that “we need to be very certain when we pull the trigger.”

“Making the right decision is more important than making a quick decision,” Nisenholtz said during the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference in New York City.

He explained the company is still looking at different paid-content models. “The reason it is taking a period of time to do this analysis is that if we don’t do it right, a lot of money drops out of the system,” he said, referring to the flagship NYT.com. “That’s not true of other newspaper Web sites, including those in our own company.”

The Times Co. is looking the meter approach used by the Financial Times, the hybrid approach of The Wall Street Journal, continuing its free model and a variety of other monetization strategies, he added.

Nisenholtz also said the company has a “good and significant” relationship with Google, and that the Internet giant brings their properties a lot of traffic.

At the same conference, CEO Janet Robinson said she expects ad revenue trends to improve in Q4. Ad revenue is expected to be down 25% for print (a slight improvement) and up 10% for online.

Company-wide the work force has shrunk 25% since a year ago, and more cuts are coming. The New York Times has already said layoffs may be needed to reduce the newsroom’s head count by 100 by year’s end. The company told the UBS conference that more staff reductions are expected on the business side of the flagship newspaper by the end of the year.

Times Co. executives said total debt will be $800 million by year’s end, and they noted that three-quarters of that matures in 2015 or later.



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