NY Times affirms support for CEO in BBC case

The New York Times reaffirmed its support Thursday for newly named chief executive Mark Thompson, saying he played no role in shelving a major sex abuse investigation when he was head of the BBC.

The New York Times reaffirmed its support Thursday for newly named chief executive Mark Thompson, pictured in March 2012, saying he played no role in shelving a major sex abuse investigation when he was head of the BBC.

The news comes with the BBC and Thompson under scrutiny over the British broadcaster's decision to scrap an investigative report into the late BBC star Jimmy Savile on allegations he had a four-decade career of child sex abuse.

Thompson, set to take over as CEO at the US media firm November 12, had explained what he maintains was his limited role in the matter, according to Times Co. chairman and interim chief executive Arthur Sulzberger Jr.

"Mark has provided a detailed account of that matter, and I am satisfied that he played no role in the cancellation of that segment," Sulzberger told a conference call of company earnings.

The reaffirmation came as British police conducted a criminal investigation into the alleged abuse by Savile and potentially other BBC staff. Scotland Yard says it believes there may have been as many as 200 victims.

Thompson himself told the New York daily on Wednesday that he played no role in shelving the probe into the allegations of widespread abuse of underage girls by Savile, with some attacks said to have taken place on BBC premises.

"I talked to senior management in BBC News and reported the conversation I had at the party and asked was there a problem," he said, adding that he was told the story would not be published "for journalistic reasons."

Thompson, who headed the British Broadcasting Corporation from 2004 to September 2012, said: "There is nothing to suggest that I acted inappropriately in the handling of this matter."

The Times confirmed this week that Thompson would join the company as president and CEO in the week of November 12.

New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan said the paper must "aggressively cover" any stories about Thompson's role at the BBC.

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