Four publicly owned newspaper publishing firms, including the New York Times Co., have reported increased sales and profits for the second quarter and first half of 1977.

New York Times chairman Arthur Ochs Sulzberger said the "most significant factor in his firm's second-quarter performance was continued growth by The Times newspaper - based on "editorial innovation," increased circulation and ad revenue growth.

Second-quarter profits of the overall firm were $6.9 million (60 cents a share), the highest for any quarter in history and up 12.4 per cent from $6.2 million (54 cents) in the 1976 period. Revenues rose 14 per cent to $128 million.

For the first half of 1977, the Times Co. earned a record $12.3 million ($1.07) on revenues of $244 million compared with profits of $8.9 million (78 cents) and revenues of $216 million a year earlier.

Pre-tax profits at The Times newspaper alone were up 32 per cent to $5.2 million in the recent quarter. Times ad linage was 40 million in the first half, up 13 per cent from a year earlier, and circulation on weekdays averaged 846,000 compared with 821,000, a gain of 3 per cent. Sunday circulation was flat at 1,456,000.

Capital Cities Communications, which recently acquired the Kansas City Star and Times, reported second-quarter profits of $12 million ($1.61 a share) compared with $10.7 million ($1.38) in the 1976 period, as revenues rose to $80.8 million from $56.2 million.

First-half profits were $20.4 million ($2.72) vs. $17.6 million ($2.26), and revenues rose to $144 million from $102 million. The firm forecast moderate third-quarter increases and said first-half revenue gains were attributable mainly to acquisition of medical publications last December and the Kansas City papers in February.

Combined Communications Corp., which owns papers in Cincinnati and Oakland and recently agreed to purchase WJLA-TV in Washington, reported second-quarter profits of $6.1 million (95 cents a share) compared with $4.7 million (76 cents) in the 1976 period. Sales rose to $61.7 million from $54.5 million.

First-half profits totaled $9.3 million ($1.44) on revenues of $113 million compared with profits of 96.2 million ($1.07) and revenues of $101 million.

Panax Corp., which owns nine dailies as well as weekly newspapers, reported second-quarter profits of $245,800 (21 cents a share) vs. $159.397 (14 cents) a year earlier, with revenues up to $8.3 million from $7.5 million. First half profits were $337.703 (29 cents) on revenues of $15.6 million vs. earnings of $126.325 (11 cents) and revenues of $13.8 million.