Maariv Closes Its English-language Web Site

The Maariv publishing group has been cutting back. Jobs have been eradicated and now it has shut down its English-language Web site, Maariv International.

Maariv International offered translated versions of top stories appearing in the daily paper and in the Hebrew-language site NRG.

Publisher Ofer Nimrodi said Maariv International has been taken off-line for upgrading. It will be returning in a new format, he said.

Usually, however, new versions are developed while the original site remains online. When the upgrade is ready, it simply replaces the old version. That is certainly the policy the group adopted when replacing Maariv Online with NRG.

Maariv decided as a policy to reduce its expenditures by 10 percent, mainly because of the climbing costs of paper for print, and the heavy cost involved in setting up NRG six months ago. The costs led Maariv to badly overspend its budget for 2004.

The cutbacks also followed intense pressure from representatives of Vladimir Gussinsky, the Russian-Israeli media magnate who owns 27 percent of Maariv's shares.

For the third quarter of 2004, Maariv reported that revenues grew 3 percent from the parallel quarter of 2003 to NIS 143 million, but it lost NIS 19.4 million. For the first nine months of 2004, it netted NIS 66 million, mostly from selling its stake in Matav Cable Systems, which netted the group NIS 93 million. Cash flow in the first three quarters of last year reached NIS 15 million.