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.
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.”
Lawyers’ Letter Raises Questions About When Mark Thompson Learned Of Alleged Jimmy Savile Abuse At The BBC: NYT
Joe Utichi contributes to Deadline’s UK coverage
Just four days into his new job as CEO of The New York Times Company, Mark Thompson is again the subject of an article in its flagship newspaper. A story published today by The New York Times says a new piece of information “raises questions” about assertions Thompson has made with regard to when he learned of allegations of sexual abuse against late BBC host Jimmy Savile. Thompson told the NYT in October, “During my time as director general of the BBC, I never heard any allegations or received any complaints about Jimmy Savile.” He has also maintained that he knew nothing of a cancelled investigation by the BBC‘s flagship current affairs program Newsnight into the claims against Savile. But the NYT reports today that a letter sent by lawyers eight days before Thompson left the BBC in September reveals he was involved in “aggressive” legal action pertaining to the Savile story. The letter, sent on behalf of Thompson and news chief Helen Boaden, threatened Rupert Murdoch’s Sunday Times newspaper with “defamation proceedings” if it were to publish an article alleging the pair had orchestrated a cover-up over the scuppered Newsnight broadcast.
The NYT, which has closely scrutinized Thompson’s role in the saga, says the letter has been revealed to include a summary of the abuse alleged against Savile, and the fact that some of the abuse was alleged to have taken place on BBC premises. A Thompson aide told the NYT that Thompson orally authorized the sending of the letter but did not know the details of its contents. “It’s not clear if he was shown it,” the aide said, “but he doesn’t remember reading it.”
UPDATE, 10:30 AM: New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. emailed staff today to welcome former BBC director general Mark Thompson as CEO of The New York Times Company. Thompson joins The Times just two days after his BBC successor resigned from the broadcaster amid ongoing editorial turmoil that has shaken public faith in the venerable company. Here is the text of Sulzberger’s message:
Mark will lead us as we continue our digital transformation, bolster our international growth, drive our productivity and introduce new technologies that will help us become better storytellers and enrich the experience for our readers and viewers …
That is what he did as director general of the BBC. His experience will be of great value to our company as we continue our pursuit of creating the highest quality journalism and the business results to support it.
All those who have met Mark, from staff members to our board of directors, admire his focus, meaningful expertise and appreciation for the long-term future of the Times Company.
PREVIOUS, 6:48 AM: Former BBC director general Mark Thompson started work as CEO of The New York Times Company today, despite concerns of some Times journalists about his suitability for the job amid ongoing turmoil at the British broadcaster. ITV News grabbed the exec this morning as he was walking into the Times building where he said he believes that the BBC troubles “will not in any way affect my job, which I’m starting right now.” On the subject of the resignation this weekend of his BBC successor George Entwistle, he said, “Look, like many people, I’m very saddened by recent events at the BBC. But I believe the BBC is the world’s greatest broadcaster and I’ve got no doubt that it will
UPDATE: BBC’s Interim Director General Emails Staff; Broadcaster Clarifies “Stepping Aside” Of News Chief Helen Boaden
2ND UPDATE 3:20 AM: Following Saturday’s resignation of BBC director general George Entwistle, the BBC Trust appointed Tim Davie, an executive from outside the news chain, to become acting director. A permanent director is to be appointed in the next few weeks, but in the meantime, Davie has written to BBC employees. He sent an email to staff this morning, which The Guardian has posted in its entirety. In part, it reads: “The BBC is a precious institution and I am determined to give the BBC the clarity and leadership it deserves in the next few weeks. What I will also do is continue what George set out – to work tirelessly on getting rid of anything that gets in the way of delivering the best of British creativity to our audiences. There will be no handbrake turn.”
It’s a dreary day for the Grey Lady: The New York Times Co stock is down nearly 20% in mid-afternoon trading following an earnings report that showed surprisingly weak ad sales in Q3. The company reported …
The sex abuse/editorial scandal plaguing the BBC is starting to reach across the pond. Mark Thompson, the former head of the BBC and the incoming CEO of The New York Times Company, has reiterated to the newspaper that he was not aware of the BBC’s Newsnight investigation into sexual abuse allegations against late TV host Jimmy Savile until after the report was spiked. Thompson’s comments to the Times run in an interview that appears in today’s paper – a day after Times ombudsman Margaret Sullivan wrote, “How likely is it that (Thompson) knew nothing?” and suggested it was “worth considering whether he is the right person for the job, given this turn of events.”
A New York Times spokesman said, “Mark will join The New York Times Company as president and CEO the week of Nov. 12. We believe his experience and accomplishments make him the ideal person to take the helm of the Times Company as we focus on growing our businesses through digital and global expansion.” But Douglas Arthur, an analyst at Evercore Partners, has said it would be advisable to “delay” Thompson’s start until the situation shakes out in the UK. Independent reviews are underway at the BBC on the Savile allegations as they relate to the corporation and on the controversial killing of the Newsnight piece. Thompson’s successor, George Entwistle, was grilled on the matters for two hours yesterday by a parliamentary select committee.
Looking to combine The New York Times Company’s information portal About.com with its own question-and-answer service, Ask.com, Barry Diller’s IAC offered to acquire the About Group on Aug. 21. The NYT Co said Sunday it had agreed to sell the company, which also includes ConsumerSearch.com and CalorieCount.com, to IAC in an all-cash deal that is expected to close in the next several weeks. The NYT Co paid $410M for About in 2005, but its fortunes have soured against competition from Google. Nevertheless, NYT Co chairman Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. said Sunday, “About.com has been a strong contributor to our company since its acquisition. This sale will allow the Times Company to focus on the development and growth of our core brands locally, nationally and on a global scale.”
The venerable newspaper company has turned to a television exec with experience managing tight budgets to help lead its journey into the digital era. Mark Thompson, 55, has been Director-General of the BBC since 2004. He’ll …
Starting in April non-subscribers will only be able to see 10 articles, slide shows or videos a month for free, down from 20, the paper says this morning. If you want more, then you’ll have to buy one of The Times’ digital subscriptions. Now brace yourself for the caveats: Even if you’re past the limit, you can still see an article for free if you reach it via a search engine, or an email or blog link — but you can only see five a day from some unnamed search engines. The NYTimes.com home page and section fronts also will be free to browse. Smartphone and tablet users will be able to see top news stories for free — but will have to subscribe to see anything else.
The Times tried to spin the news as sign of how well it’s doing in the digital world. One year after it erected its pay wall, the paper has 454,000 paid digital subscribers. “We knew that readers placed a high value on our journalism, and we anticipated they would respond positively to our digital subscription packages,” Chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr says. Still, he has a lot riding on his ability to nudge online readers to pay — without giving print customers an incentive to switch to a lower-priced digital-only subscription.
Bloomberg smartly notes that former New York Times CEO Janet Robsinson’s $24M bundle in 2011 was “equal to about 2.4% of the company’s market value of $981.9 million, and exceeds the approximately $3 million the company earned in net …
Arthur Sulzberger Jr will become interim CEO until the newspaper company can find someone else to take on one of the most thankless jobs in media. While The New York Times Co has managed its transition to the digital world better than just about any other newspaper company, it’s still a newspaper company. And as that industry has faded, so have its profits and prospects. The New York Times’ market value is down 23% so far in 2011 — and down 69% since the end of 2006. Still, Robinson leaves with a sweet deal. She’ll be paid $4.5M over the next year to serve as a consultant on what the company calls “an as-needed basis.” But she can’t compete with the Times, hire away its employees, or bad-mouth the company for three years. Here’s the company’s release:
NEW YORK–Dec. 15, 2011– The New York Times Company (NYSE: NYT) announced today that Janet L. Robinson, 61, president and chief executive officer since 2004, will retire on December 31, 2011. Arthur Sulzberger Jr., currently chairman of the Company and publisher of The New York Times, will serve as chief executive officer on an interim basis. Ms. Robinson also will step down as a director of the Company on December 31, 2011. She has agreed to serve as a consultant to the Company for one year.