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 Tuesday, Times chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr called Thompson a "gifted executive" and hailed his ability to generate revenue from new types of products. In particular, the Times cited the BBC's multimedia offerings during the London Olympics.
Thompson replaces Janet Robinson, who resigned as CEO in December. Thompson will move from the UK to New York and begin in November. He'll also join the board of directors.
Sulzberger said Thompson, 55, was the ideal candidate to lead the company "when we are highly focused on growing our business through digital and global expansion".
The Times, 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 the company increase overall revenue by nearly 1 per cent in the quarter to US$515 million ($640 million).
At the same time, the company is shedding troubled businesses, even if they are online. Last week, it agreed to sell its About.com information service for US$270m 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.
Thompson led the British Broadcasting Corp as director-general for eight years. He presided over a difficult period marked by job reductions, cuts in operations including websites for some shows and unpopular changes to employee pension programs.
Last year, the BBC announced a plan to cut 2000 jobs with a goal to cut costs by 20 per cent.
Thompson said in March that he would leave the BBC following the London Olympics, which wrapped up Sunday.
The Times credited Thompson with supervising BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the BBC, which has annual revenue of about US$1.5 billion.
Thompson said in a statement he was excited to join the Times "as it extends its influence digitally and globally".
Douglas Arthur, an analyst with Evercore Partners, said the hiring was a ''positive development'' and should help the Times expand internationally. The New York Times launched a Chinese-language website in June.
Thompson also is used to the challenge of being the head of a prominent global brand, Arthur 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."