The strikebound Daily News has until March 15 to reach an agreement with a buyer or the 71-year-old tabloid will fold, its publisher announced.

A source close to the sale talks said a conditional agreement on a purchase of the paper was possible as early as Tuesday. The possible "letter of intent" was with Robert Maxwell, the British publisher with whom the paper has been talking in the past few days, said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.The announcement of a deadline for resolving the paper's future came during a bitter, violent strike now in its 19th week. Contract talks broke down last week.

"Barring a sale, I regret that a shutdown of the business will be necessary," Publisher James Hoge said in a statement.