The annual shareholder meeting of the Times Co. is just next Tuesday, and in preparation we're all reading the company's annual report. What delicious secrets lurked within, we wondered? Well we enjoy the "Risk Factors" section, where we learned the following: The New York Times does not like that the odd idea that blogs are taking away their business. (They are? News to us.) Also, all those layoffs might result in an inferior product!
Regarding the blogs, the annual report reports: "The proliferation of nontraditional media, largely available at no cost, challenges the traditional media model, in which quality journalism has primarily been supported by print advertising revenues. If consumers fail to differentiate our content from other content providers, on the Internet or otherwise, we may experience a decline in revenues." Because the internets aren't supported equally by display advertising? And that Times might be confused with other brands? Huh what?
Moving on! "Help wanted and automotive classified advertising revenues, which are important categories at all of our newspaper properties, have declined as less expensive or free online alternatives have proliferated." Screw you, Craig Newmark!
"We have taken steps to lower our expenses by reducing staff and employee benefits and implementing general cost-control measures, and we expect to continue cost-control efforts... Although we believe that appropriate steps have been and are being taken to implement cost-control efforts, if not managed properly, such efforts may affect the quality of our products and our ability to generate future revenue. In addition, reductions in staff and employee benefits could adversely affect our ability to attract and retain key employees." Last one out, turn off lights.
"There are substantial uncertainties associated with our efforts to develop new products and services for evolving markets, and substantial investments may be required." About.com China? Maybe not such a great idea, on further reflection.
"Competition for certain types of acquisitions, particularly Internet properties, is significant. Even if successfully negotiated, closed and integrated, certain acquisitions or investments may prove not to advance our business strategy and may fall short of expected return on investment targets." But Times CEO Janet Robinson will fight for those properties like she was elbowing someone aside at a sample sale! She loves to shop!
Hmm, what else? Oh, here we go! "Our Class B Common Stock is principally held by descendants of Adolph S. Ochs, who purchased the Times in 1896. A family trust holds 88% of the Class B Common Stock. As a result, the trust has the ability to elect 70% of the Board of Directors and to direct the outcome of any matter that does not require a vote of the Class A Common Stock. Under the terms of the trust agreement, trustees are directed to retain the Class B Common Stock held in trust and to vote such stock against any merger, sale of assets or other transaction pursuant to which control of The Times passes from the trustees, unless they determine that the primary objective of the trust can be achieved better by the implementation of such transaction. Because this concentrated control could discourage others from initiating any potential merger, takeover or other change of control transaction that may otherwise be beneficial to our businesses, the market price of our Class A Common Stock could be adversely affected." Damn you, Hassan Elmasry and Wall Street and everyone else who just won't get off our backs! We hate you!