Times to Club Internet Assets

The New York Times Co. has succumbed to a popular trend among publishing and media conglomerates with the late May decision to consolidate all its online properties under a new division, Times Company Digital.

Planned to debut June 18, the new arm is part of the New York publisher’s strategy for synergy among its 50 Internet holdings that include the sites of its newspaper, magazine and broadcasting interests. Cross-site advertising opportunities and links between sibling sites, both currently under wraps, will bolster this online effort.

“I think right now what we’re looking to do is create a network of sites that will meet the growing needs of our local and national markets,” said spokesman Lisa Carparelli. “By aggregating our sites into this single business unit, it will allow us to be a lot more focused in our Internet strategy and leverage the resources we have.”

The online consolidation move could also be a precursor to an initial public offering, a consideration that has been given serious thought at the $2.9 billion New York Times Co.

“On the surface this seems like they are considering an IPO, but according to reports they don’t seem to have immediate plans,” said Anya Sacharow, analyst at Jupiter Communications, New York.

“Like every other company, that’s certainly something we’ve explored and will continue to look at,” Carparelli said. “We’re always looking at ways to enhance the value of our company to our shareholders.”

Martin A. Nisenholtz has been named CEO of Times Company Digital. He was previously president of the New York Times Electronic Media Co., which was responsible only for the flagship New York Times’ Internet edition.

Chief among the company’s online properties are nytimes.com, The New York Times’ web edition and ranked among the top ten news sites on the Internet, according to an April survey by Media Matrix, New York; boston.com, styled as the country’s largest regional gateway to the New England area; nytoday.com, a lifestyle site for New York; nytimes.com/learning for parents, teachers, and students; and, California wine country news source winetoday.com.

The new division will also encompass the web sites of the group’s 21 regional newspapers, eight network affiliates, and magazine titles like Golf Digest, besides numerous Internet ventures.

Combined revenues from the new media holdings for 1999 are projected between $24 million and $26 million, Carparelli said, adding that losses will be in the same $10 million to $15 million range as in the last year. Revenues last year were $18 million, with advertising accounting for two-thirds and payments for content and e-commerce contributing the rest.


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