New York Times Chief Thompson Testified at Internal BBC Inquiry

Mark Thompson, the newly installed chief executive officer of New York Times Co., testified at an internal inquiry by the British Broadcasting Corp. into why it canceled a news report about alleged sexual abuse at the broadcaster, raising concerns of a cover-up.

Thompson, who joined Times Co. earlier this month, was in charge of the BBC when it canceled a segment by its “Newsnight” program investigating claims that Jimmy Savile, a popular BBC presenter, had sexually abused dozens of underage girls over a period of decades. Savile died last year.

Thompson met today with Nick Pollard, a journalist and former head of British Sky Broadcasting Group Plc’s Sky News who has been asked by the BBC to look into the network’s decision not to air the “Newsnight” report, according to Robert Christie, a spokesman for Times Co. The CEO went to London for the holidays, Christie said. He said he didn’t know when Thompson will return to New York.

Thompson has said he wasn’t aware of the abuse allegations and didn’t participate in stopping “Newsnight” from airing the segment.

“I was not involved in any way in the decision-making about the ‘Newsnight’ investigation into Savile,” Thompson said in an interview last month.

Times Co. Chairman and Publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. said the lingering scandal at the BBC has been a challenge for the company.

“The British stuff hasn’t made things easy,” he said two days ago in a brief interview. “But Mark is a good man.”

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