The online edition of The New York Times (NYT), one of the most viewed U.S. Web sites, was offline for nearly four hours Wednesday night.

The site, nytimes.com, went offline around 7 p.m. EDT and returned just before 11 p.m.

A spokeswoman for the Times, Catherine J. Mathis, did not immediately return a telephone call for comment Wednesday night.

The Web site 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. (NWS), and ahead of the Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) 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 online.

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.

FOXNews.com is owned and operated by News Corporation, which also owns and operates MySpace.com.