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August 15, 2012

Former BBC boss to head up New York Times’ digital transition

The New York Times Company has appointed the BBC's Director-General, Mark Thompson, as its next President and CEO.

By Allan Swann

Thompson will also be joining the company’s board of directors, and will answer to the company’s chairman, Arthur Sulzberger Jr. He will be moving to New York for the role, and dropping his current position at the BBC which he has held since 2004.

"Our board concluded that Mark’s experience and his accomplishments at the BBC made him the ideal candidate to lead the Times Company at this moment in time when we are highly focused on growing our business through digital and global expansion," said Sulzberger Jr.

Thompson oversaw the BBC’s successful multi-platform strategy, best exemplified by the positive response to the BBC’s London 2012 Olympic Games coverage which saw record page hits, TV and online video views and extensive live streaming – especially on mobile devices.

A leaked memo by Sulzberger has made it online (unverified), stating the reasons for his appointment stating: "…under Mark’s direction, the BBC also became known as a place of constant innovation. Mark will work closely with the board and with me as we work to extend our own culture of innovation and transformation and as we continue to expand our reach both around the globe and onto new and emerging digital platforms."

Thompson succeeds Janet Robinson, who retired from NYTC in December last year; causing consternation amongst investors with her $24 million golden parachute payout. George Entwistle was announced as Thompson’s successor at the BBC before the Olympics.

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

"I’m particularly excited to be coming to The New York Times Company as it extends its influence digitally and globally."

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One of the world’s most highly regarded newspapers, The New York Times Company has struggled to transition its titles to the digital realm. The New York Times, for example, has gone in and out of pay wall models several times, and like its other papers, The International Herald Tribune and the Boston Globe, has struggled to produce a satisfactory return from online advertising.

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