updated 4/20/2006 8:07:01 AM ET 2006-04-20T12:07:01

The online edition of The New York Times, one of the most viewed U.S. Web sites, was off-line for nearly four hours due to an internal technical problem, a spokeswoman said Thursday.

The site was completely down from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday, and was inaccessible to anyone outside the Times until 11 p.m., said Catherine J. Mathis, spokeswoman for New York Times Co.

She didn’t give details about the technical problem.

The Web site, www.nytimes.com, was ranked ninth among the 50 most visited sites last month, according to figures released Monday by comScore Media Metrix, which tracks Internet traffic. It received 36.3 million unique visitors, just behind the myspace.com online community, part of News Corp., and ahead of Verizon Communications Inc. and The Weather Channel sites, comScore said.

In September, the Times began charging $49.95 annually for those who don’t subscribe to the newspaper’s print edition to access marquee columnists for its Op-Ed page and other columnists for the paper’s business, metro and sports sections.

That service, TimesSelect, includes access to the paper’s archives, early looks at some sections and online tools for tracking and storing articles from the Times Web site. The Times maintained a separate premium service for its crossword puzzles.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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