The ‘Times’ hits its first hurdle in its quest to capture the Chinese market

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The New York Times in China. ()
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On yesterday's New York Times Company third-quarter earnings call, Denise Warren, the general manager of nytimes.com, told Wall Street analysts that the Chinese-language news site launched by the Times last summer had already exceeded expectations in terms of users, pageviews and revenue, with "nice interest from a range of advertisers, mostly in the luxury segment."

Overall, said Warren, "We're very pleased that the [Chinese] marketplace is taking to our initiative."

But then, the market isn't everything in China. The Chinese government, hours after the publication of a lengthy exposé on the "hidden fortune" of the prime minister's family, blocked the country's access to nytimes.com and the Chinese language site, cn.nytimes.com.

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“We hope that full access is restored shortly, and we will ask the Chinese authorities to ensure that our readers in China can continue to enjoy New York Times journalism,” a Times spokeswoman was quoted as saying in the paper's own report on the matter.

Surely the Times, which has been moving most of its eggs into a basket of "digital and global expansion"—as Chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr. put it on yesterday's call—must have been expecting this would happen sooner or later. (The same thing happened to Bloomberg News back in June, after all.)

We wondered a bit about the challenges of the Chinese market for an organization like the Times Company, which is probably unwilling to cut the same kinds of deals that some other media companies have to operate smoothly in China.

Foreign editor Joe Kahn did not respond Friday afternoon to a request for comment on whether he thought the Times' ongoing coverage of China could create further hurdles for the potentially lucrative Chinese-language site going forward.

But a Times spokeswoman told Capital:

We certainly were aware that occasionally Chinese readers cannot access certain articles on the Chinese (and English)-language sites of other foreign media organizations. And, we knew it might be something we would have to live with too. Having said that, we have continued to report and translate stories applying the same journalistic standards that are upheld across The New York Times and, we will continue to do so.

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In other news...

Jack Shafer on "The New York Times, the BBC and the Savile sex scandal." [Reuters]

Gabe Sherman introduces us to Roger Ailes' "mouthpiece" at Fox News. [New York/Daily Intel]

Comcast C.E.O. Brian Roberts offered condolences and support to the family of the CNBC executive whose children were murdered yesterday. [B&C]

Conde Nast C.E.O. Chuck Townsend is still bullish on print. [W.W.D.]

Bloomberg's terminal growth is slowing. [New York Post]

Current TV is up for sale. [New York Post]

Joe Ricketts' super PAC is producing a Mitt Romney magazine. [NYT/Media Decoder]