March 24, 2009 / 9:28 PM / 11 years ago

UPDATE 1-New York Times sells Alabama newspaper

* Times Daily to be sold to family-owned company

* Shares rise 3.5 percent after market close

By Robert MacMillan

NEW YORK, March 24 (Reuters) - The New York Times Co (NYT.N), which is trying to lighten its debt load as advertising revenue falls, plans to sell the Times Daily newspaper of Florence, Alabama to a regional publisher.

The company will sell the Times Daily to the Tennessee Valley Printing Co Inc, publisher of The Decatur Daily, it said in a press release on Tuesday.

The Times bought the Times Daily — first published in 1890 — from Worrell Newspapers in 1982.

The Times Co did not disclose the sale price for The Times Daily, whose daily circulation is 27,785 and Sunday circulation is 29,171.

In addition to The New York Times newspaper, the Times Co also owns The Boston Globe and Worcester Telegram-Gazette in Massachusetts, as well as papers in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, the Carolinas and California.

The agreement to sell the Times Daily comes after The New York Times Co took several measures to cut costs and pay off hundreds of millions of dollars in debt.

It is selling its share of its headquarters building and has laid off staff at the About.com website.

The Times and other U.S. newspapers are trying to save money as ad revenue falls because of the recession and as more people go online to get news for free.

The grim financial outlook has nearly frozen the market for buying and selling papers, though last week the Copley family agreed to sell the San Diego Union-Tribune to the Platinum Equity private equity firm. Gannett Co Inc (GCI.N) also might find a buyer for the Tucson Citizen in Arizona.

Other papers are facing threats to their survival. Hearst Corp ended the print edition of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. It also might shut down the San Francisco Chronicle.

Other papers, including some in Michigan run by Advance Publications, are cutting their print editions to only a few days a week and furloughing employees.

Most Times Daily employees will keep their jobs, the paper reported on its website. The Times Co told the paper’s publisher, executive editor, advertising director and circulation manager that they would not keep their jobs under the new ownership, and offered them severance packages.

New York Times shares rose 3.5 percent in after-hours trading after falling 4.21 percent to close at $4.55 on the New York Stock Exchange. (Editing by Phil Berlowitz)

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