With Eyes on Bancrofts, Times Co. Announces Lousy Earnings, Big CutsWhile we’re all distracted by the newspaper family currently confabbing in Boston — and there’s no movement on the Bancroft-o-Meter today, as we haven’t seen any news reports speculating further on who in the family stands where — some intriguing news came yesterday from the New York newspaper family that’s been busy moving great-grandpa’s keepsakes around the corner in Hell’s Kitchen. The New York Times Company released its second-quarter financials yesterday, and in what can only be dispiriting news to the Sulzbergers, income from continuing operations fell an impressive 59 percent from a year earlier as advertising continues to crater.
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The Media Primary: Bloomberg ‘08It might still be up in the air between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Republicans might all be holding their breath for the inevitable explosion of the Rudy bubble and the subsequent inflation of — who? McCain? Romney? — a successor. But one primary has solidified in the last few days: Media moguls are backing Mike Bloomberg for president.
Billie Jean Is Not My Talk-Show HostBillie Jean King says she wouldn’t mind taking fellow lesbian Rosie O’Donnell’s spot on The View. Socialiterank.com will post no more, but its (still anonymous) founders do have a book deal. Arthur Sulzberger Jr. was marginally insensitive toward deaf people at the New York Times Co. annual meeting. American Idol contestants put on a private performance at Rupert Murdoch’s house. Christie’s exec John Hays made a quip about Katie Couric at the Children for Children benefit. Cameron Diaz went shopping in Soho, then freaked out when the paparazzi showed up. Kate Winslet likes New York’s paparazzi more than London’s. A woman obsessed with Sandra Bullock tried to run over Bullock’s husband with a car. Hugh Grant was arrested on an assault charge after throwing baked beans at a paparazzo.
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Steve Rattner Declares Times Co. Safe
A Reuters item from this morning that’s worth not overlooking:
NEW YORK (Reuters) — New York Times Co. investors should not expect the Sulzberger family to change the way it runs the company despite pressure to scrap its dual-class share structure, a close adviser to the publisher said on Wednesday.
“There’s no possibility of it changing,” Quadrangle Group managing principal Steven Rattner told the Reuters Hedge Funds and Private Equity Summit. “I don’t think this is a situation where you’re going to find some surprise ending to the story.”
That’s Steve Rattner, former Times reporter, billionaire media financier, and Arthur Sulzberger’s best friend, declaring that the kvetching of Hassan Elmasry & Co. notwithstanding, the Sulzbergers, who control the Times Co. and can’t be forced to change its stock structure or take it private unless they want to do so, don’t want to do so. We suspect he knows of what he speaks.
Times Won’t Change Structure: Adviser [Reuters]
Earlier: A Brief Rant Occasioned By Talk of a Potential Takeover Attempt at the New York Times Co.
Picking On Little ArthurIn his new memoir, former Time Inc. editor-in-chief Norm Pearlstine accuses New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger of being more concerned with publicity than with the law during the Judith Miller saga. (Of course, Pearlstine was concerned with neither, happily capitulating to the prosecutor!) Tom Brady and Gisele went to Easter Mass in Little Italy. Disgraced former Miss USA Tara Conner has left New York for L.A. Scarlett Johansson and Ryan Reynolds now seem to be an item. Socialite Dori Cooperman was arrested and charged after she allegedly stole and cashed a $4,300 check. A Gawker editor had a tough time handling Jimmy Kimmel’s questions on Larry King Live. Giada De Laurentiis may be one of Tiki Barber’s co-hosts on the Today show.
Sulzberger Tires of Wondering Whether Print Is DeadMEDIA
• Pinch Sulzberger: “Will we print the NYT in five years? I don’t care.” [Haaretz via E&P]
• GE CEO Jeff Immelt calls a Post story about a sale or spinoff of NBC Universal, “more or less made-up stupid drivel.” [Fortune]
• Will Ferrell and Sacha Baron Cohen “too big” to share VF’s Hollywood cover. Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Chris Rock, and Jack Black apparently not so big. [Deadline Hollywood/LA Weekly]
Arthur Sulzberger Punishes Morgan StanleyFINANCE
• The Ochs-Sulzberger family wants their money out of Morgan Stanley, after a London-based Morgan managing director tried to incite a shareholder revolt at the Times. [Fortune via CNNMoney]
• Hedge-fund heavies like T. Boone Pickens, Paul Tudor Jones II, and Carl Icahn have all donated to Rudy Giuliani’s exploratory committee. They maxed out their donation: a whopping $2,100. [DealBook/NYT]
• Equity Office’s board rejects Vornado’s cash-and-stock takeover bid and instead goes for Blackstone’s cash offer of $54 a share. Shareholders will likely vote next week. [CNNMoney]
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A Brief Rant Occasioned By Talk of a Potential Takeover Attempt at the New York Times Co.
Speaking of loving the Times, this seems as good a time as any to make a few points about Hank Greenberg, dual-class ownership structures, that prig Hassan Elmasry at Morgan Stanley Investment Management, and the great, good benevolence of the Ochs-Sulzberger family. It’s simple, really: Notwithstanding whatever noise to the contrary you’ve been hearing lately, the New York Times Co. will not be sold. Say it again, together: The Times Co. will not be sold. The Sulzbergers have all the power, and — much as one might like to mock their current leader, Arthur Jr., and much as he may have made a series of a stupid strategic decisions — they’re not going to let anyone else buy it.
And that’s a good thing.