'The Times' titles lose £51.3m on ad squeeze

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The Independent Online

The publisher of The Times and The Sunday Times experienced a loss of £51.3m in the year to 29 June, the latest indicator of the industry's struggle in the face of collapsing advertising revenues. The results mark a 17 per cent rise in losses at Times Newspapers over the previous year, according to accounts filed at Companies House yesterday.

The group reported turnover of £444.8m, down slightly from £447.1m.

Susan Panuccio, director at the group, said in the report: "In common with other newspaper groups, the company is addressing the challenges of the internet as an advertising medium, as well as other challenges in the advertising market more generally."

Yet the real impact of the recession on advertising was felt in the months following the period covered by Times Newspapers' annual results.

The World Advertising Research Center (Warc) found in March that ad spending in the UK had plunged almost a tenth in the final quarter of the year. Warc director Colin Macleod compared the falls to the economic downturn in 1991 and warned of further falls to go. The advertising slump has forced newspaper groups to slash costs and reduce headcount this year.

Times added that costs had risen because of the earlier than planned delivery of its new full colour presses.

Circulation revenue improved on the previous year "based on cover price increases that occurred during the year on The Times," it said.

The Sun and the News of the World, the other key publications in Rupert Murdoch's UK media empire, also reported yesterday.

News Group Newspapers revealed profits were down from £61.8m to £55.1m, also citing the fall in advertising revenues. Turnover rose on the cover price increases at the News of the World.