Ad revenue slides at Globe, Telegram

Advertising revenue slid a combined 27.6 percent last year at The Boston Globe and Worcester Telegram, while price increases boosted circulation revenue by nearly 9 percent.

Those were the big Massachusetts takeaways in the fourth-quarter report of The New York Times Co., which owns the Globe and the Telegram. The Times itself reported a profit of $90.9 million in the fourth quarter and a profit of  $19.9 million for the year, rebounding from a 2008 loss of $58 million.

The Times overall reported a 25 percent drop in advertising revenue in 2009, falling to $797 million. Circulation revenue increased 2.3 percent to $683 million. At the Globe and the Telegram, advertising revenue dropped 27.6 percent to $230.8 million while circulation revenue increased 8.9 percent to $168 million.

The circulation gains were part of a calculated effort by the Times to squeeze more revenue out of subscribers. “This growth demonstrates the strong demand and loyalty for our high quality news and information in print, even as the content marketplace becomes increasingly digital,” said Janet Robinson, president and chief executive of the Times.

Online revenue at the Times last year declined 4.1 percent from 2008 levels, dropping to $337.4 million. The Times’s Internet businesses accounted for 13.8 percent of the company’s revenues in 2009 compared to 12 percent in 2008.

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine.

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