The New York Times (NYSE: NYT) is selling its 15 regional newspapers to the Daytona Beach, Fla.-based Halifax Media Group, according to reports and an accidentally published page on the Halifax Media website. The news comes days after NYT CEO Janet Robinson stepped down. Update: The NYT confirmed it is in discussions to sell the Regional Media Group to Halifax. Release below.
Jim Romenesko has a screenshot of the Halifax web page. The entire website is now down.
The New York Times has not confirmed the news or responded to my request for comment but NYT corporate media reporter Amy Chozick tweeted (more from her story below):
Days after its CEO leaves, the New York Times Co. is in talks to sell its regional newspapers. Story coming shortly.
— Amy Chozick (@amychozick) December 19, 2011
The NYT’s regional media group consists of 15 papers: The Sarasota Herald-Tribune (Sarasota, FL); Press Democrat (Santa Rosa, CA); Ledger (Lakeland, FL); Star-News (Wilmington, NC); Herald-Journal (Spartanburg, SC); Star-Banner (Ocala, FL); Gainesville Sun (Gainesville, FL); Tuscaloosa News (Tuscaloosa, AL); Gadsden Times (Gadsden, AL); Courier (Houma, LA); Times-News (Hendersonville, NC); Daily Comet (Thibodaux, LA); Dispatch (Lexington, NC); News Chief (Winter Haven, FL); and Petaluma Argus-Courier (Petaluma, CA). All of those newspapers are dailies except the Petaluma Argus-Courier, a weekly. The group’s average daily circulation is 433,251. The papers have been losing money; NYT Co. wrote down $161.3 million worth of Regional Media Group assets earlier this year.
At the NYT’s Media Decoder, Amy Chozick writes, “From 2008 to 2009 advertising revenue at the Regional Media Group fell 30.2 percent, to $192,924. Ad revenue fell another 8.2 percent in 2010 to $177,056, according to the company’s 2010 annual report. Classified ads make up 28 percent of the advertisements in the Times Company’s regional papers.”
Sulzberger cousin Michael Golden is chairman of the NYT president and COO of the Regional Media Group and has been floated as a possible but unlikely replacement for Janet Robinson.
The Halifax Media Group acquired the Daytona Beach News-Journal for a reported $20 million in January 2010.
For the NYT press release, which says very little, go to page 2.
The New York Times Company Confirms It Is in Discussions to Sell Its Regional Media Group
NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Dec. 19, 2011– The New York Times Company (NYSE: NYT) announced today that it is in advanced discussions to sell its Regional Media Group, consisting of 16 regional newspapers, other print publications and related businesses, to Halifax Media Holdings LLC.
The Regional Media Group comprises the following publications:
Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Sarasota, Fla.;
The Press Democrat in Santa Rosa, Calif.;
The Ledger in Lakeland, Fla.;
Star-News in Wilmington, N.C.;
Herald-Journal in Spartanburg, S.C.;
Star-Banner in Ocala, Fla.;
The Gainesville Sun in Gainesville, Fla.;
The Tuscaloosa News in Tuscaloosa, Ala.;
The Gadsden Times in Gadsden, Ala.;
The Courier in Houma, La.;
Times-News in Hendersonville, N.C.;
Daily Comet in Thibodaux, La.;
The Dispatch in Lexington, N.C.;
Petaluma Argus-Courier in Petaluma, Calif.;
News Chief in Winter Haven, Fla.; and
North Bay Business Journal in Santa Rosa, Calif.