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Global Showbiz Briefs: Spain Getting Local Version Of Israeli Reality Format ‘The Extra Mile’; Layoffs Loom At BBC News

‘The Extra Mile’ Headed To Spain For First Adaptation Outside Israel 
The Extra MileReality format The Extra Mile is getting its first international adaptation. Created by Ami Glam, CEO of Israel’s Studio Glam, the show challenges divorced couples to work together for prize money for their kid. It will be produced by Endemol Spain for Mediaset Telecinco Channel. The Spanish take will be made in the Canary Islands and is expected to be air in the summer. Spain was one of the 12 territories that bought the right to produce The Extra Mile as a part of a multi-territory deal with Endemol. When the show launched in Israel, it broke records for Channel 10. It is still airing and has an average 24.8% share. The Spanish adaptation will be called Ex, ¿Qué harías por tus hijos? Read More »

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UPDATE: New Yorker Backs Off Pay-Gap Charge In Firing of NYT Editor Jill Abramson

By | Sunday May 18, 2014 @ 5:57pm PDT

UPDATED, 5:57 PM: In round three of his coverage of l’affair Abramson, New Yorker media reporter Ken Auletta pulled back from his claim that the first female executive editor of the New York Times was ousted by publisher and chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr. after raising issues about getting lower compensation than her predecessor.  In a shocking post on Sunday evening at newyorker.com, Auletta wrote that, according to “extremely well-informed sources at the paper” — presumably Sulzberger himself or his proxy — “Abramson was, essentially, fired for cause, for lying to Sulzberger…” The linchpin issue, Auletta reports, was Abramson’s courtship of Janine Gibson, editor of the American edition of the Guardian newspaper, to run the Times’s digital operations.

Nytimes_hqIt’s been widely reported that Abramson had the support of both Sulzberger and chief financial officer Mark Thompson, and that the deal was all but done to bring Gibson — a powerhouse journalist who had been chiefly responsible for the Edward Snowden revelations of the inner workings of the National Security agency — to the Times masthead at a level parallel to her managing editor, Dean Baquet. However, Auletta writes, that was with the “assurance she had squared Gibson’s rank and arrival with Baquet when, in fact, she had not. The sources say she misled Sulzberger when she said, in person and by e-mail, that she had consulted with Baquet about the offer to Gibson and had worked it all out in detail with him.” Gibson told Auletta  that “Jill was explicit in our initial conversation when she told me, ‘The first thing I have to do is talk to Dean.’ I’m mortified that these discussions are in public and feel very strongly that Jill should not have been hung out to dry when she behaved honorably and was trying to do what she thought was best for the New York Times.” Read More »

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New York Times Replaces Executive Editor Jill Abramson With No. 2 Dean Baquet

By | Wednesday May 14, 2014 @ 12:12pm PDT

Nytimes_hqUPDATE #2: Abramson already off the Times masthead. The New York Times publisher and chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr. stunned the newsroom this afternoon with the announcement that Executive Editor Jill Abramson, the first woman to lead the paper of record, is being replaced by Managing Editor Dean Baquet. By 5 P.M. New York time, the Times masthead already had been updated to reflect the change. Baquet becomes the first African-American to lead the Times. No specific reason was given for the abrupt move, but grumblings about Abramson’s management style, which many staffers complained was aloof and dismissive, as well as whispers about her run-ins with the paper’s business-side chief, Times Co. CEO Mark Thompson, had been circulating among the chatterati for months.

According to The Times, Sulzberger told senior editors in a gathering at a conference room Wednesday afternoon and then addressed the full newsroom around 2:30 p.m. EDT. All he said after the official announcement, according to reporters who were there, was that “we had an issue with management in the newsroom.” I guess so. One insider with knowledge of the last-minute negotiations said that Abramson was adamant about not saying she was leaving “to pursue other options.”

JillA one-time investigative reporter and D.C. bureau chief at the paper, Abramson won the top job in 2011. Her official comment suggested that she is leaving the paper completely. “I’ve loved my run at The Times,” she said in a … Read More »

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BBC Trust Chairman Chris Patten Steps Down

By | Tuesday May 6, 2014 @ 10:44am PDT

BBC Publishes The Pollard Report On Executives Handling Of The Axed BBC Newsnight Investigation Into Jimmy SavileChris Patten, who has absorbed some of the criticism for the BBC’s handling of the Jimmy Savile sexual abuse revelations and subsequent Newsnight scandal last year that rocked the UK pubcaster, has resigned from the post he has held since 2011. His contract was set to expire in April 2015. Vice Chairman Diane Coyle will take over as Acting Chairman until a successor is appointed. Patten cited recent successful heart surgery last month as the reason for his departure, saying in a memo that “On the advice of my doctors, however, and having consulted my family and friends, I cannot continue to work at the same full pace as I have done to date, and that I should reduce the range of roles I undertake. On this basis I have decided with great regret to step down from much the most demanding of my roles — that of Chairman of the BBC Trust.”

In the pubcaster’s last annual report ending made public in July, Patten said the BBC “seriously let down both itself and license fee payers. Trust in the institution took a hit as a result, although it has begun to recover” from the sex abuse scandal, for which the broadcaster spent about £5M in investigations. Executive payouts also received criticism after  former general director Mark Thompson who left in September 2012 to be CEO and president … Read More »

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‘Book Of Mormon’ Tops 2014 Olivier Awards

By | Sunday April 13, 2014 @ 4:40pm PDT

bookofmormonSouth Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone added four Olivier Awards to their belts tonight as their Book of Mormon stage musical won top kudos at the British theater honors. The comedy musical about Mormon missionaries won Best New Musical, Best Actor (Gavin Creel), Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical (Stephen Ashfield), and Best Theatre Choreographer (Casey Nicholaw). Drama Chimerica, out of the Almeida Theatre & Harold Pinter Theatre, won Best New Play and Best Director (Lyndsey Turner), Best Set Design (Es Devlin) and tied for Best Lighting Design (Tim Lutkin & Finn Ross) and Best Sound Design (Carolyn Downing). Lesley Manville won Best Actress honors for Ghosts and Rory Kinnear nabbed top male acting honors for Othello. See full list of winners below: Read More »

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Sam Mendes’ ‘Charlie & The Chocolate Factory’ Leads Olivier Award Noms

olivier awardsThe Sam Mendes-directed West End musical Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, which recently extended its run to May 20, 2015, tied today with the revival of Stephen Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along to lead the list of Olivier Award nominees with seven each. Charlie grabbed mentions in the Best Actor in a Musical category for Douglas Hodge as well as Best New Musical, among others. The show, from Warner Bros Theatrical Ventures, has twice broken records during its run for the highest weekly gross sales. The other Best New Musical nominees include Once, The Book Of Mormon and The Scottsboro Boys; each received six nominations. In the acting categories, Tom Hiddleston is cited for his lead turn in Coriolanus and Jude Law for his take on Henry V. Judi Dench in Peter And Alice, is up against Hayley Atwell, Anna Chancellor and Lesley Manville for Best Actress. The Olivier Awards ceremony will take place at London’s Royal Opera House on April 13. Click over for a full list of nominations: Read More »

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UK Parliament Blasts BBC Over Severance Payouts: “Cronyism Was A Factor”

By | Monday December 16, 2013 @ 4:20am PST

bbcBritain’s Public Accounts Committee, a Parliamentary oversight group, has strongly criticized the BBC over severance packages paid to senior execs that in the three years to December 2012 totaled £25M ($40.8M). “There was a failure at the most senior levels of the BBC to challenge the actual payments and prevailing culture, in which cronyism was a factor that allowed for the liberal use of other people’s money,” the PAC said today. The BBC is funded by a compulsory £145.50 license fee paid by British households on an annual basis. The committee called some of the justifications provided by the BBC “extraordinary.” The group particularly noted comments made by former BBC director general, Mark Thompson, who is now president of The New York Times Company, when he appeared before it in September. Thompson “claimed that it thompsonwas necessary to pay his former deputy and long-term colleague Mark Byford an extra £300,000, not because the BBC was obliged to, but to keep Mr Byford ‘fully focused’ instead of ‘taking calls from head hunters’,” the PAC noted. In 2010, Byford was paid two years’ salary, half of it in lieu of notice, and was retained and paid for eight more months. The spokeswoman for the New York Times provided that paper with a statement from Thompson that reads in part: “Severance payments for senior managers working for public organizations are inevitably unpopular and controversial. The sole reason for making these payments was so that the BBC could rapidly reduce the number of senior managers and make far larger savings on behalf of the public… Despite some inflammatory language in the PAC report, there is absolutely no evidence of any wrongdoing by anyone at the BBC in relation to these severance payments.”

New BBC director general Tony Hall, who succeeded George Entwistle after he lasted only 54 days on the job and was forced out over a series of scandals that erupted in late 2012 (and was given a controversial £450,000 payout), has moved to cap severance pay at the broadcaster. The PAC says it welcomes the changes and agrees with Hall that the BBC had “lost the plot” in its management of severance payments in recent years. PAC chairwoman Margaret Hodge said the payments had put the BBC’s reputation at risk. The stinging rebuke comes at a time when the BBC has been making some headway in rebuilding its tarnished reputation after the late 2012 crises that included child sex abuse revelations surrounding Jimmy Savile, and editorial missteps at flagship news program, Newsnight. Read More »

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Global Showbiz Briefs: ‘We Are The Best!’ Sold To Half-Dozen Territories; ‘Rising Star’ Heads To Italy; More

‘We Are The Best!’ Headed To Screens In Six More Territories
Lukas Moodysson’s latest feature We Are The Best! has sealed a number of new distribution deals. TrustNordisk has added France (MK2), Russia (Caravella), Greece (One from the Heart), Mexico (Cannibal Networks), Hungary (Vertigo), Estonia (Estin Film) and Hong Kong (Edko) to the list of territories where the film will be released. The tale of three young outsiders in 1980s Stockholm who form a punk band debuted in Venice. Magnolia Pictures acquired it for the U.S. after it played in Toronto.

Latest Stop For Keshet’s ‘Rising Star’ Is Italy
Keshet International
has locked another deal for Rising Star, its hit interactive talent show. Sony Pictures Television Group production company Toro will adapt the format for Italy. This follows recent deals in France, Russia, Germany and the Nordics. Rising Star was one of the hottest properties at the recent Mipcom TV market and incorporates real-time voting by viewers via a free app that is fully integrated into the show. Read More »

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Deadline Global Showbiz Watch With Nancy Tartaglione, Episode 6

Listen to (and share) episode 6 of Deadline’s audio podcast Global Showbiz Watch With Nancy Tartaglione. Deadline’s international editor talks with host David Bloom about the Venice Film Festival, including unlikely Golden Lion winner Sacro Gra and another timely documentary, this one from Oscar winner Errol Morris about another former Defense Secretary, this time Donald Rumsfeld. They also discuss the grilling Parliament gave New York Times CEO Mark Thompson over fat severance packages for execs when he was head of the BBC, and the wide-ranging lineup announced for the London Film Festival later this fall.

Deadline Global Showbiz Watch, Episode 6 (MP3 format)
Deadline Global Showbiz Watch, Episode 6 (MP4a format)
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Former BBC Chief Mark Thompson Faces MPs Over Executive Severance Payments

By | Monday September 9, 2013 @ 12:42pm PDT

Former BBC director-general, and current CEO of The New York Times Company, Mark Thompson, was grilled by British MPs today over severance packages paid out to senior execs towards the end of his time at the public broadcaster. The BBC is being scrutinized for making £25M in exit payments, some said to be in excess of contractual obligations. Public accounts committee chairwoman Margaret Hodge contended that today’s hearing was not to “bash the BBC,” rather it was designed to “get to the truth.” By the end, she had called the session “a grossly unedifying occasion.”

Thompson was among seven witnesses providing testimony to the committee today, along with BBC Trust chairman Chris Patten. Patten had earlier said he was unaware of some of the payments and that he was “shocked and dismayed” that a £1M payment to Thompson’s former deputy director general Mark Byford in 2010/2011 exceeded his contractual entitlement. Thompson has maintained that the Trust had been kept well-informed. He said his mandate at the time of the Byford payment was to reduce the corporation’s payroll from the top. He characterized it as “value for money” and said he had been under “ferocious pressure” to cut costs. “I do not think we lost the plot, I do think we had done several important things to begin to control payments,” he said, noting that steps taken during his tenure led to a cost-savings at the BBC of £35M. The matter is of some concern to the British public given that it funds the broadcaster via a license fee of £145.50 per year. Read More »

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Red Sox Owner Buys Boston Globe From New York Times

Here’s the latest milestone in the story of newspapers’ decline in the digital age. The Times paid $1.1B for the Boston daily n 1993 — the highest price ever for a U.S. newspaper. Today it announced that it has agreed to sell its New England Media Group, which includes the Boston Globe, to Fenway Sports Group for $70M. John Henry is the principal owner of Fenway Sports, but the chairman is Tom Werner who co-founded The Carsey-Werner Company and was executive producer of TV hits including The Cosby Show, Roseanne, 3rd Rock From The Sun, and That 70s Show. In addition to the Globe, the company is picking up BostonGlobe.com, Boston.com, the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, Telegram.com, GlobeDirect (a direct mail marketing company), and a 49% stake in Metro Boston. Times CEO Mark Thompson says that the sale will enable him to “sharpen our company focus on and investments in The New York Times brand and its journalism.” The Times put the Boston-area properties up for sale in February, the last part of its ongoing effort to shed non-core assets. Henry’s Fenway Sports Group also owns Fenway Park, 80% of the New England Sports Network, 50% of NASCAR team Rousch Fenway Racing, and English Premier League’s soccer team Liverpool F.C.

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ESPN Hires Nate Silver From NY Times

By | Friday July 19, 2013 @ 6:29pm PDT

ESPN has made its second high-profile signing in a week, and it’s someone well known to Hollywood political circles. The New York Times announced online tonight that its political number cruncher Nate Silver is heading to the sports giant and taking his FiveThirtyEight crystal ball column with him. Silver began his career by compiling spreadsheets of baseball statistics before he became the best known 2012 national election prognosticator and the most accurate. The NYT said that, in political years, he will have a role at ABC News, which is also owned by Disney. Most of the statisticians had Mitt Romney beating President Obama in the electoral college count for months prior to the election, but Silver called the contest correctly. (Said the president: “Nate Silver completely nailed it. The guy’s amazing.”) Prior to the 2008 election, Silver gained recognition for developing an algorithm known as PECOTA (Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm), which was used to predict players’ future performance.

The news of Silver’s defection comes just days after the ESPN re-signed Keith Olbermann to do a late-night show on ESPN2 and less than a month before News Corp launches its rival sports network Fox Sports 1. The NYT said Silver’s 3-year contract was set to expire in late August, “and his departure will most likely be interpreted … Read More »

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BBC Annual Report: Broadcaster “Seriously Let Down” License Fee Payers

By | Tuesday July 16, 2013 @ 6:52am PDT

BBC Trust chairman Chris Patten quoted Charles Dickens today in reflecting on the corporation’s last year: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” he said. Patten made the remark in presenting the BBC’s annual report for the year ended March 31. He was specifically referring to the ups and downs of 2012/2013 which included highs like coverage of the summer Olympics and lows like the Jimmy Savile sex abuse scandal. Speaking of the Savile crisis and of editorial troubles at flagship news magazine Newsnight, Patten said, “The BBC seriously let down both itself and license fee payers. Trust in the institution took a hit as a result, although it has begun to recover.” The fallout from the Savile scandal was costly in more ways than one. It was revealed that the broadcaster spent about £5M on investigations in the wake of the crisis while payments to outgoing execs also jumped. Talent remunieration dropped a little over 1%, but executive pay rose from $2.56M to £4.13M, per The Guardian. Those execs include former general director Mark Thompson who left in September 2012 to be CEO and president of The New York Times Co., and George Entwistle who left in November after just 54 days on the job amid the Savile revelations. Entwistle alone receieved £470,000 in severance plus £107,000 in legal fees. The corporation … Read More »

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BBC Accused Of Misleading Parliament Over Failed £100M Digital Media Initiative

By | Tuesday June 11, 2013 @ 6:22am PDT

The BBC is in hot water again, this time over the handling of the Digital Media Initiative, a project to digitize archive content and make it easily accessible to production staff. The project was cancelled last month, but had already cost the broadcaster and taxpayers nearly £100M. Now, the Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) contends that it was misled over the status of the initiative during evidence given in 2011 by the BBC and its then-director general Mark Thompson. At the time, Thompson – who is now CEO of the New York Times Company – told the Committee, “There are many programs that are already being made with DMI, and some have gone to air and are going to air with DMI already working.” But at a hearing yesterday, Committee chair Margaret Hodge said, “We were told that there were bits of this system that were working, that you were using them. That wasn’t true. That just wasn’t true.” She has summoned Thompson to answer questions at a July hearing, The Guardian reports.

In a statement, Thompson said, “When I appeared in front of the PAC… I answered all of the questions from Committee members honestly and in good faith. I did so on the basis of information provided to me at the time by the BBC executives responsible for delivering the project.” Thompson has had a hard time leaving the BBC behind. Just as he was starting his New York Times Co. job in November, he was the subject of scrutiny from the flagship paper, and the British media, over the Jimmy Savile/Newsnight saga and was also interviewed for an inquiry into the scandal which erupted just after he left the broadcaster. Read More »

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Kevin Spacey To Deliver MacTaggart Lecture; Speech Usually Given By Major UK TV Execs

In a first for a Hollywood star, Kevin Spacey will deliver the keynote MacTaggart Lecture at the Edinburgh International TV Festival in August. The influential speech traditionally focuses on serious issues facing the UK TV business. It has in the past been delivered by three members of the Murdoch family: Rupert, James and Elisabeth, who gave last year’s address. Other previous speakers include Ted Turner, Eric Schmidt and former BBC chief Mark Thompson.

Spacey’s involvement comes on the heels of exec producing and starring in House Of Cards, which Netflix positioned as a game-changer by releasing all 13 episodes of the drama’s first season at once. Season two is currently filming. On giving the MacTaggart, Spacey said, “Clearly this has been an exciting period for me personally, but also I believe this is a time of huge opportunity, innovation and creativity for all of us who live to tell stories and engage audiences. I’m excited to share my thoughts and meet players from across the media industry. I’m also an Edinburgh TV Festival virgin so have no idea what I am letting myself in for!” Read More »

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Big Media Pay: Who Were 2012′s Highest Paid CEOs?

Highest Paid CEOs 2012No surprise about who topped the list of 2012′s highest paid CEOs at the media companies whose compensation practices I track most closely. (See here for an explanation). CBS’ Les Moonves returns to the head of the pack with $62.2M, even though his package was 11.1% smaller than it was in 2011. That was an anomaly: The top 20 collectively made $542.7M, up from $416.6M in 2011, according to company proxy statements filed at the SEC. It took $25.9M to crack the Top 10 — last year Time Warner Cable’s Glenn Britt made it with $16.4M. The most notable change in this year’s list vs 2011 is the jump by Liberty Media’s Greg Maffei to No. 2 from No. 28 as his company adjusted stock options just in case the feds change the corporate deduction this year for performance-based compensation.

Related: Big Media Moguls With Out-Of-Whack Compensation

Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer also joins the top 10 following her move there from Google. Her appearance also highlights a quirk in this year’s list which has more CEOs than companies: Yahoo had three CEOs last year (Mayer is still there) and there were two apiece at Sirius XM (James Meyer replaced Mel Karmazin) and Cinemark (Tim Warner is now in charge). Also, remember that this list just includes corporate CEOs, not division chiefs or board chairs. I’ll be back soon with a list of the highest-paid media execs. The numbers on the right are the amount in millions of dollars for the total compensation as reported by each company.

Here’s our list of 2012′s highest-paid media CEOs: Read More »

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Global Showbiz Briefs: New BBC Chief Takes Reins, HBO & Canal Plus, China’s TV Docu Market, Bona Film Group

By | Tuesday April 2, 2013 @ 9:00pm PDT

New BBC Chief Says “Best Days Lie Ahead”
Today was the first day on the job for the BBC’s new director general, Tony Hall. The broadcaster’s former head of news returned to the Beeb after more than a decade as CEO of the Royal Opera House. The organization he confronted today is in far different shape than it was when he left. After going into crisis mode last October when the Jimmy Savile sex abuse scandal broke open, the BBC was rocked by the mishandling of a Newsnight report that mistakenly identified a senior politician as an alleged pedophile. Those events led to the resignation of former director general George Entwistle after only 54 days on the job. Mark Thompson, Entwistle’s predecessor, left in September to become CEO of The New York Times Company and under his watch austerity measures were put in place after the license fee that was frozen until 2017. Two major unions went out on strike at the BBC last Thursday in protest over what was referred to as “a modern-day BBC sweatshop” along with bullying claims at the company. Hall made a handful of appointments prior to starting at the BBC, but has yet to name a head of news or head of television. In an email to staff today, he said, “With imagination and hard work, the BBC’s best days lie ahead of us.” Read More »

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BBC Releases 3,000 Documents From Inquiry Into Jimmy Savile/’Newsnight’ Scandal

By | Friday February 22, 2013 @ 5:24am PST

The BBC this morning published 3,000 pages of interviews and correspondence related to the Jimmy Savile sex abuse scandal and the 2011 shelving of a Newsnight program that would have revealed the late host’s alleged crimes. The documents include few earthshattering revelations, but are laced with internal criticisms and email chains that provide a window onto the workings of the venerable broadcaster whose armor has been severely dinged in the past several months as a result of the combined crises. (Read the full report here.)

The documents, provided by the Pollard Inquiry into the handling of the Newsnight affair, include testimony from key witnesses like Newsnight anchor Jeremy Paxman, whose evidence has been the focus of much scrutiny given its criticisms of management. He told interviewers that the Pollard Inquiry was being conducted in a “ridiculous fashion” and called the BBC’s behavior regarding the Newsnight report “contemptible.” He further said he’d been surprised by then-editor Peter Rippon’s response when Paxman wanted to pursue the Savile investigation after learning that rival ITV was about to air its own exposé. According to Paxman, Rippon said “I just can’t do this.” Paxman contends the use of the word ‘can’t’ was “very, very unusual… and I didn’t say, ‘What do you mean ‘can’t'? Someone has told you that you can’t, or you physically can’t face it?’” Paxman says he now believes it was a mixture of both. (The BBC said yesterday that Rippon would take over a newly-created post as editor of the BBC online archive). Paxman added that Savile’s behavior was “common gossip” around the corporation, although much of his testimony has been redacted. The BBC said today that 3% of the overall information has been blacked out “for a very limited number of legal reasons.” Read More »

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New York Times Prepares To Sell The Boston Globe

By | Wednesday February 20, 2013 @ 1:19pm PST

NEW YORK– The New York Times Company (NYSE: NYT) today announced that it plans to sell its New England Media Group, including The Boston Globe and its related properties, and that it has retained Evercore Partners to advise the Company and manage the sales process.

“Our plan to sell the New England Media Group demonstrates our commitment to concentrate our strategic focus and investment on The New York Times brand and its journalism,” said Mark Thompson, president and CEO of The New York Times Company. “The Boston Globe and the Worcester Telegram & Gazette are outstanding newspapers and they and their related digital properties are well-managed leaders in their markets with real opportunities for future development. We are very proud of our association with the Globe and the Telegram & Gazette, but given the differences between these businesses and The New York Times, we believe that a sale is in the best long-term interests of these properties and the employees who work for them as well as in the best interests of our shareholders.”

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