The New York Times names BBC head, Mark Thompson, as its next CEO

Press Release | Capital New York | The New York Times
After eight months without a CEO, The New York Times announced today that BBC head Mark Thompson will become its next chief executive. Former CEO Janet Robinson was fired in December 2011.

In a press release, Times Chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr., who had been interim CEO, said of his new hire:

“Mark is a gifted executive with strong credentials whose leadership at the BBC helped it to extend its trusted brand identity into new digital products and services … 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.”

In a memo to staff published by Capital New York, Sulzberger emphasized the importance of innovation to the Times:

“…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.”

The Times’ story about Thompson’s appointment describes the situation he’ll inherit:

Mr. 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 percent.

A positive sign for The Times has been the success of its digital-subscription strategy, which was introduced in March 2011. This year, paid digital subscribers to the Web site, e-reader and other digital editions of The Times and The International Herald Tribune increased by 12 percent from the first quarter to the second, to 509,000 from 454,000.

In March, Thompson announced his departure as director general of the BBC, which he first joined 33 years ago as a production assistant.

The 55-year-old father of three is married to Jane Blumberg, who was born in the U.S. He said in March “that when he travelled abroad the programme he was congratulated for most often was ITV’s Downton Abbey.”

“When Americans in the grip of Downton-fever slap me on the back, I just smile modestly and say: ‘You know I really had very little to do with it,'” he joked.

In June, Bloomberg and The Guardian reported that Thompson was a top candidate, as the Times was seeking a tech-savvy CEO. He starts at the paper in November. Last month, Thompson’s successor at the BBC was named, ending speculation that “the next director-general could, for the first time, be a woman.”

Correction: This article originally stated that Thompson’s successor at the BBC had not yet been named. That was incorrect.

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