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New York Times Names BBC Chief Mark Thompson as CEO

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Renzo Piano's The New York Times building on 8th Avenue in Manhattan. (somewhatfrank)

The New York Times Company has named BBC head Mark Thompson as its president and CEO. The choice — an Englishman with no newspaper experience and little advertising background — seems to indicate the company may be focused on a digital future.

Ken Doctor, an industry analyst and a former newspaper executive, said the selection of Thompson will continue the process of transformation the paper has been undergoing, which is similar to one that the BBC has also undertaken.

“These are two of the most trusted news brands in the world and yet both are in the middle of transforming themselves for the digital age,” Doctor said. “They’ve opted for somebody who is into transforming a great brand into the future.”

Doctor adds while Thompson might not have the advertising experience, he does have the cultural and organizational experience necessary for CEO.

In a statement Tuesday, Times Chairman Arthur Sulzberger Junior called the 55-year-old Thompson a "gifted executive" who helped extend the BBC brand into digital products and services.   

Thompson replaces Janet Robinson, who resigned as CEO in December. He will begin in November. 

Doctor thinks there are a few steps Thompson may take quickly, such as assessing talent, deciding where to take digital circulation and enhancing the video experience.

The Times Company, faced with declining ad revenue from its printed editions, has been trying to boost revenue from digital products.

Last year, it began charging for online access to The New York Times and The Boston Globe newspapers. The appointment follows the company's move to add technology heavyweights Joichi Ito and Brian McAndrews to its board in June.

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