NY Times to Buy Paper with Adult Industry Ties

Matt O'Conner
BOSTON – A proposed deal between The New York Times Co. and a Swedish media company with ties to the adult industry is raising a few eyebrows in Boston.

The Times Co. and sister paper The Boston Globe have tendered an offer to buy 49 percent of Metro Boston, a free community paper, for $16.5 million. If the deal goes through as expected later this month, the Times will become corporate cousins with Modern Times Group, a Swedish company that telecasts adult programming throughout Scandinavia and the Baltics.

According to the latest corporate filings, Stockholm-based Modern Times owns 28 percent of Metro International, Metro Boston’s parent.

Modern Times is a large media outfit that includes TV1000, a controversial network that broadcasts a range of entertainment, including adult content. In the mid-1990s, TV1000 drew criticism from Norway's Ministry of Culture, who complained the network was broadcasting porn films in violation of that country's anti-pornography laws.

A Metro spokesman defended TV1000, pointing out that the network offers all types of content, including movies, sports and family entertainment, and likened it to HBO, Showtime and other cable networks.

A call to the Times was not returned.

Ironically, The Times in 2000 ran a front-page expose blasting mainstream companies, including many of the paper’s media rivals, for climbing into bed with the porn industry.

In an Oct. 25, 2000, report, the Times wrote that “the financial rewards'' of the porn business were so enticing “that some of the biggest distributors of explicit sex on film and online include the country's most recognizable names.''

In a case of turnabout being fair play, The Boston Herald, local rival of the larger Globe, has been highly critical of the proposed deal in its editorial and has filed an appeal opposing the deal on anti-trust grounds.