Newsday Confirms New York Losses

Article excerpt

TIMES MIRROR CO'S Newsday has lost between $8 million and $14 million a year on its seven-year-old New York City edition, New York Newsday.

Newsday publisher Bob Johnson announced the losses in a recent newsroom staff meeting at New York Newsday headquarters on Park Avenue.

That was the company's first public statement about the amount of losses. It was close to estimates made by industry analysts for years. Nevertheless, Times Mirror shows no sign of backing out of the New York City tabloid war.

While Newsday remains profitable overall, Johnson said he wants to make New York Newsday profitable within five years.

Times Mirror executives have told industry analysts essentially the same thing, adding that New York Newsday is expected to turn a profit in five years no matter what happens to its competitors, said John Reidy, media analyst with Smith Barney Shearson.

Making a profit won't be easy because circulation surges of past years have stalled. Based in part on assessments of a consulting firm, Johnson said New York Newsday circulation is expected to grow a few thousand a year, rather than tens of thousands, at least as long as its tabloid competitors, the New York Post and Daily News, remain in business.

Profitability depends on boosting New York Newsday's circulation past 300,000, from 270,000 now, and cutting costs, Johnson said.

Newsday, with a 760,000 daily circulation, including New York Newsday, considers the $56 million to $98 million that it has spent so far in New York a worthwhile investment and relatively cheap, considering the cost of buying a metropolitan daily.

"Our attitude is that if we went out and bought a big-city paper, it would cost a lot more than this 7 1/2-year investment has cost. The way we look at it, we're getting a darned good bargain with New York Newsday," spokeswoman Chiara Coletti said.

Reidy agreed, saying that with creative bookkeeping, New York Newsday could be close to breaking even. But whatever the losses, he said, "For a voice in the New York market, it's a steal."

Coletti said the New York edition, which employs about 250 journalists and 150 people in circulation and advertising, is ahead of projections, largely because of the three-month strike that devastated the Daily News' circulation and advertising two years ago. …

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