Mark Thompson, the former BBC director general, has been the rumored replacement for ousted New York Times Company CEO Janet Robinson since June, and on Tuesday afternoon it was made official. The announcement came a bit ahead of the timeframe suggested in The Times last month. Amy Chozick wrote then that "a person familiar with the company’s thinking" said the announcement was could come "as early as September." Thompson, who currently lives with his family on Oxford, still has a time before he starts his new job. According to the company press release announcing the hiring, he'll start in November. And, naturally, Thompson is pleased. "It is a real privilege to be asked to join the Times Company as it embarks on the next chapter in its history," he said in the release.
So let's get to know this new guy, shall we? Thompson, an Oxford graduate, "joined the BBC in 1979 as a production trainee" and worked his way up through the ranks. And The Times' Media Decoder report on the news has some basic summary on his work at the BBC:
Mr. Thompson’s reign at the BBC has largely been categorized as one of digital expansion and as having an emphasis on developing the BBC internationally. For example, he championed the BBC’s collaboration in YouView, a joint venture with ITV, Channel 4 and other channels that provides digital TV. He has also overseen several rounds of cost cutting at the BBC, which depends largely on mandatory license fees, not advertising, for its operating budget.
PaidContent took a more critical look at Thompson's BBC tenure back in June: "Thompson gets credit for getting a lot of ideas through. His tenure has been marked by downsizing in order to avoid a license-fee cut, and then again when the cut was delivered anyway. 'Delivering Quality First' included a 25 percent-budget cut to online activities with an eye toward focusing on 'what the BBC does best,' not all of which actually occurred."
As long as we're delving into Thompson's past, let's not overlook the reports from 2005, when it surfaced that he once bit a journalist in what he said was "horseplay," when he was the editor of the Nine O'Clock News in 1988. A lot has changed since then, but not the joke that Thompson is going to "sink his teeth" into this new job. Welcome aboard!