* Cuts dividend to 4 cents/shr from 19 cents
* Hires adviser to help assess costs
* 1st-qtr print ad rev falls 21 pct
* Shares fall 9.6 pct premarket (Adds shares, details)
May 10 (Reuters) - Time Inc on Wednesday slashed its dividend as the magazine publisher pushed ahead with a cost-cutting plan following its decision to not sell itself, even as the company reported another drop in quarterly sales.
The publisher of Sports Illustrated and Fortune magazines said last month it would pursue a strategic plan that included spending cuts and focusing on its digital business.
The company's decision not to sell itself also ended speculation about a potential merger with U.S. broadcasting and publishing group Meredith Corp.
Time Inc's shares have fallen 17.5 percent since it announced the decision. The stock slipped 9.6 percent to $13.65 in trading before the bell on Wednesday.
"The noise and relentless media speculation over the last 6 months around the potential change of ownership clearly was a major distraction to our employees and advertisers and other partners, and had an impact on Q1 results," Chief Executive Richard Battista said on a post-earnings call with analysts.
Time Inc, like its peers in the publishing industry, has struggled in recent years as advertisers increasingly move away from print to digital media, which includes Google and Facebook.
The company said print advertising revenue, which makes up a third of total revenue, fell about 21 percent to $212 million in the first quarter ended March 31, while digital advertising sales surged 32 percent to $119 million.
Total revenue dipped nearly 8 percent to $636 million, marking the fourth straight quarter of decline. The company also said it would no longer provide a forecast for annual revenue.
Net loss attributable to Time Inc widened to $28 million, or 29 cents per share in the first quarter ended March 31, from $10 million, or 10 cents per year, a year earlier.
Excluding one-time items, the company reported a loss of 18 cents per share, bigger than the 15 cents expected by analysts on average, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Time Inc lowered its quarterly dividend to 4 cents per share from 19 cents.
The company said it had hired an adviser to help assess costs.
Time also announced changes to its board of directors.
The company appointed John Fahey, currently the board's lead independent director, as non-executive chairman.
Dan Rosensweig the chief executive of online textbook rental firm Chegg Inc was named to Time Inc's board. (Reporting by Narottam Medhora in Bengaluru; Editing by Sai Sachin Ravikumar)