Wednesday 22 July 2020 3:01 pm

Former BBC boss Mark Thompson steps down as New York Times chief

Mark Thompson, a former boss at the BBC and Channel 4, is to step down as chief executive of the New York Times.

He will be replaced by the newspaper’s chief operating officer Meredith Kopit Levien, who was also previously its advertising head.

Levien said she intends to focus on expanding the newspaper’s subscription model, as advertising revenue continues to fall.

She will also replace Thompson on the company’s board, taking over the role on 8 September.

At 49 years old, Levien is the youngest person ever to helm the newspaper.

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The New York Times has forecast that advertising revenue would continue to decline by as much as 55 per cent for the second quarter of 2020, as the coronavirus pandemic weighs heavily on an already weathered industry.

Meanwhile it recently surpassed 6m paying subscribers for its content, putting it more than halfway towards its goal of reaching 10m subscribers by 2025.

“We have really big ambitions for The New York Times and we have big ambitions for independent journalism, more generally,” said Levien.

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Thompson said “there really was no one else” for the role, having started the search for his successor a year ago.

He said he has no immediate career plans, adding: “I’ll figure out what I’ll do next after I’ve had some time to step back.”

Thompson served as director general of the BBC in London from 2004 to 2012, and was chief executive of Channel 4 for the two years before that.

Between 2017 and 2019, Thompson received a total of $17.4m in salary, bonuses and stock wards, while Levien earned $9.7m. The New York Times said her pay would likely increase with her new role.