11/04/2015 10:51 EST | Updated 11/04/2016 05:12 EDT

Torstar Reports Loss Of $164.3 Million As Print Ad Revenue Dives

TORONTO — Torstar Corp. is cutting its dividend in half after revenue fell and losses mounted in the third quarter on weaker print advertising.

The publisher of the Toronto Star and various other daily and community newspapers in Ontario reported a loss of $164.3 million, or $2.05 per share.

That compared to profits of $125.3 million a year earlier when it booked a pre-tax gain of $224.6 million on the sale of its Harlequin romance novel division.

As a result, Torstar said it would chop its annual dividend to 26 cents per share annually starting in the first quarter.

Operating revenue dropped to $185.4 million from $199.9 million.

Print advertising took the biggest hit with overall revenues from the Metroland Media Group, which publishes papers like city and community papers like the Hamilton Spectator, falling 8.8 per cent.

Digital revenue across Torstar's operations jumped by 22.8 per cent, primarily driven by the acquisition of a 56-per cent interest in VerticalScope Holdings Inc., a Canadian company that serves the appetites of car fanatics and offers tips to pet lovers.

At the Star Media Group, digital revenue increased 5.1 per cent on better results from