The decision as to whether the New York Daily News will be closed will be made Monday if striking unions do not grant enough concessions by then, the publisher said Wednesday.
Publisher James Hoge set the latest deadline after 13 months of fruitless negotiations, a four-month-long strike and a wave of violence that prompted the News to file multimillion-dollar lawsuits against the nine unions.
While the 71-year-old tabloid has been published daily since the strike began Oct. 25, its circulation has fallen from 1.09 million to what management says is now 600,000.
As readership fell and the unions mounted a boycott, major advertisers deserted the News. The newspaper says it lost $114.5 million in 1990, $69.3 million of that in the last quarter.
Contract negotiations, meanwhile, have gone nowhere. On Jan. 16, Hoge announced a tentative decision to close the newspaper or sell it if profits were not restored. The News sent its employees 60-day notices, required by law, saying the newspaper might be shut down.
Since then there have been urgent attempts to negotiate, including a recent round of talks mediated by William J. Usery Jr., a former U.S. secretary of labor.
Another meeting was scheduled for today.
“We think a sufficient time has passed . . . and sufficient efforts have been made to elicit proposals” from the unions, Hoge said. Until Monday, he said, “we will meet with them to consider anything they have left.”
The publisher said that if he decides to close the newspaper, he will set a date for the shutdown and the parent company, Chicago-based Tribune Co., will rule on the decision.
After that, Hoge said, he would “be prepared to discuss the effects of that with the unions.” That would include the possible sale of the paper.