The New York Times Co named outgoing BBC head Mark Thompson as its next chief executive, saying it valued his record in helping the British broadcaster expand online.
In a statement on late Tuesday, New York Times Co chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr called Thompson a “gifted executive” and hailed his ability to generate revenue from new types of products. In particular, the company cited the BBC’s multimedia offerings during the London Olympics.
Thompson, 55, replaces Janet Robinson, who resigned as CEO in December. Thompson will move from the UK to New York and begin in November. He will also join the board of directors.
The New York Times Co, 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, the International Herald Tribune and the Boston Globe newspapers.
In the quarter that ended in June, the company had 532,000 digital subscribers at those newspapers. Digital subscriptions helped it increase overall revenue by nearly 1 percent to US$515 million.
At the same time, the firm is shedding troubled businesses, even if they are online. Last week, it agreed to sell its About.com information service for US$270 million following several quarters of slowing revenue.
The appointment follows the company’s addition in June of two technology heavyweights to its board: Joichi Ito, an early investor in Twitter and director of the Media Lab at MIT, and Brian McAndrews, a venture capitalist who specializes in funding technology startups.
Evercore Partners analyst Douglas Arthur said the hiring was a “positive development” and should help the company expand internationally.
Thompson is also used to the challenge of being the head of a prominent global brand, he said.
“He’s used to the intense glare of the media circus in the UK. He’s no rookie,” Arthur said. “The challenge is he comes from a TV background, not a print one.”