January 14, 2011 7:46 pm

Times halves losses to £45m but advertising revenue falls

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The publisher of The Times and The Sunday Times newspapers in the UK halved its losses last year in spite of lower advertising revenues.

Times Newspapers Limited reported a pre-tax loss of £45m for the year to June 27 2010, compared with £87.7m in 2009, on revenues that were roughly flat.

The narrowed loss was due in part to a £16m reduction in charges to the group by its parent company, News Corp Investments, and lower administrative expenses. It also reflected the £14m in reorganisation and redundancy costs that weighed on earnings in 2009.

Advertising revenues, meanwhile, were lower. “The weak economic climate continued to impact the level of advertising spend by clients,” the company said in financial statements filed with Companies House this week – though it noted an improvement in the second half of the year, with the first signs of year-on-year growth.

Circulation revenues rose at both newspapers thanks to price rises for Monday to Friday editions of The Times, and The Sunday Times. Yet average net circulation for The Times fell 14.75 per cent, year-on-year, to 505,752 for the period between February and July, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulation. The Sunday Times’ average circulation was 1.1m for that period, down 8.7 per cent year-on-year.

The publisher’s holding company, News International – owned by Rupert Murdoch’s New York-listed News Corp – moved into the red for the year to June 27, due in part to a £45m write-off of a loan to the group’s free daily, thelondonpaper, which shut in September 2009.

News International reported a pre-tax loss of £78.5m, compared with a profit of £34.7m in 2009. As in 2009, no dividends were paid in the year.

The company is seeking sources of revenue beyond print circulation and advertising; it launched new websites for The Times and The Sunday Times last May that charge readers daily or weekly rates for access. The News of the World, also owned by News International, introduced an online paywall last October.

Alongside its sister tabloid, The Sun, the News of the World helped swing its publisher News Group Newspapers Limited into operating profit, with The Sun “[delivering] a record year in advertising”, according to the board of the two tabloids.

Revenues rose from £639m to £654m and pre-tax profits more than doubled to £88.6m.

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