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BBC’s Thompson to head New York Times

August 15, 2012

By Colin Mann

The New York Times Company has named Mark Thompson, the outgoing director general of the BBC as its new president and chief executive. The company has been seeking a candidate with experience in the digital world and across multiple platforms since Janet Robinson left in December 2011. Thompson will join the company in November. In addition to his executive roles, he will also sit on the board of directors.

Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the chairman of the Times Company and the newspaper’s publisher, praised Thompson as “a gifted and experienced executive with strong credentials whose leadership at the BBC helped it to extend its trusted brand identity into new digital products and services,” adding that his skills “speak to our future”.

“The New York Times is one of the world’s greatest news providers and a media brand of immense future potential both in the and around the world,” commented Thompson.“It is a real privilege to be asked to join the Times Company as it embarks on the next chapter in its history.”

When announcing he would step down as director general, Thompson said he would leave his current position after the London Olympics, which ended Sunday. Other than a spell between 2002 and 200 as chief executive of Britain’s Channel 4, Thompson has spent his career at the BBC in a range of television managerial roles.

He joined the BBC in 1979 as a production trainee. He helped launch Watchdog and Breakfast Time, was an output editor on Newsnight, and was appointed Editor of the Nine O’Clock News in 1988 and of Panorama in 1990.

As Controller of BBC Two from 1996 to 1998, he saw the channel win acclaim for strong programming such as Our Mutual Friend, The Royle Family and Storyville. He was the BBC’s Director of National and Regional Broadcasting from 1999 to 2000. In 2000, he became the Director of Television.

He has overseen the successful launch jointly with ITV of Freesat, as well as the BBC’s involvement in YouView, a joint venture with ITV, Channel 4, Arqiva, TalkTalk, and Five that offers subscription-free digital TV and the UK’s leading video on-demand services.

Thompson will be joining The Times as it continues to face challenges posed by changing reader habits and a shifting advertising market. Last month, the company reported a net loss of $88 million for the second quarter of 2012, and advertising revenue at its News Media Group, which includes The Times, The International Herald Tribune and The Boston Globe, fell 6.6 per cent.


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