February 23, 2017 / 10:29 PM / 5 months ago

New York Times to air TV ad during Oscars for new ‘Truth’ campaign

3 Min Read

(Reuters) - The New York Times Co (NYT.N) will air its first TV ad in seven years on Sunday's broadcast of the Academy Awards on ABC, as the 166-year old newspaper looks to highlight independent journalism amid U.S. President Donald Trump's attacks on the media as "fake news."

The Oscars are among the pricier ad buys on television, with 30-second commercials going for between $1.9 and $2 million, according to ad-tracking firm Kantar Media. While ABC, owned by Walt Disney Co (DIS.N), does not comment on how much it receives from advertisers, a source with knowledge of negotiations said the Times' ad buy was in that range.

The Oscars is traditionally the most-watched non-sports event broadcast in the United States.

Since Trump’s Nov. 8 election victory, the Times has seen an uptick in digital subscribers and revenue even as its business on the print side declines. During the Times’ most recent quarter, the paper added 276,000 digital subscribers and grew digital ad revenue by nearly 11 percent, accounting for more than 40 percent of its overall ad revenues.

The New York Times, the Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal and Gannett Co (GCI.N) are building on the online readership they gained during the 2016 presidential election by marketing unbiased reporting as a sales strategy.

Trump has repeatedly bashed the press. In a tweet last week citing The New York Times, NBC, ABC, CBS and CNN, he said the media was "the enemy of the American People!"

Last year’s Oscars broadcast attracted 34.4 million viewers, making it the third-lowest-rated Oscars since 1974. Still, only National Football League games and Fox’s airing of the final game of last fall’s World Series drew more viewers in 2016.

The New York Times commercial is part of a broader brand campaign, the paper’s first in a decade, that aims to position the newspaper as a reliable outlet in the face of the rise of the “fake news” epidemic.

The company's 30-second commercial repeats the words “The Truth Is…” on screen, with voices in background getting increasingly louder, with different endings including “our nation is more divided than ever" and “alternative facts are lies.”

The ad ends with: “The Truth is more important now than ever.”

Reporting by Tim Baysinger; Editing by Anna Driver and Leslie Adler

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