Will Sulzberger be the next Times Company C.E.O.? He doesn’t quite say ‘no’

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Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. ()
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Arthur Sulzberger Jr. has been serving as interim C.E.O. of The New York Times Co. ever since the resignation of Janet Robinson late last year.

As a member of the Times controlling family, the Sulzbergers, he's already the publisher of The New York Times and the chairman of the NYT Co. board. Is he prepared to step into the C.E.O. job permanently if the company can't find the right candidate to replace Robinson?

He didn't quite say "no" when asked that question on this morning's quarterly earnings call with Wall Street analysts.

"I have no doubt that we will find the right candidate, and I'm looking forward to that," he said.

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As for the state of the C.E.O. search, Sulzberger said in prepared remarks earlier in the call that the company had "made progress." He noted the recent hiring of the executive recruitment firm Spencer Stuart.

But that doesn't necessarily mean they're closing in on anyone in particular just yet.

"We are looking both internally and externally for an executive who meets our needs," he said. "We will take the time necessary to find the right person for the role."

The Times Company's profits soared in the first quarter on the recent sale of its regional media group and the continued growth of the paid digital model at its namesake paper. As the company announced last month and reiterated today, paid digital subscriptions to The New York Times and sister title The International Herald Tribune totaled 454,000 as of March 18, a 16-percent increase from the fourth quarter of 2011.

But advertising revenues, both print and digital, continued to slide in the first quarter, dropping 7.2 percent and 2.3 percent respectively year over year.

On the earnings call, one analyst asked specifically about a drop in ad pages at The New York Times Magazine.

"What we're experiencing in our magazine segment is probably what you're seeing across the industry," said Scott Heekin-Canedy, the Times' president and general manager, noting recent reports of an overall sales slump at U.S. consumer titles.

But one of the Times' glossies is apparently looking healthier than the other.

"It's particuarly so in our weekly magazine," said Heekin-Canedy, refering to ad page declines. "The T style magazine is doing a bit better."