Thompson starts as Times CEO amid BBC flap

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New York Times Co. chief executive Mark Thompson started his job Monday amid a widening scandal at his former employer, the BBC.

When the Times hired him in August, Thompson was hailed as someone who could help the company at a time when print publications are suffering from the loss of readers and advertisers.

Thompson, 55, left the British Broadcasting Corp. in September after more than three decades with the public broadcaster. He spent his last eight years there as director general.

In recent months, Thompson has faced questions over a decision by the BBC's "Newsnight" program last December to shelve its investigation into child sexual-abuse allegations against renowned BBC children's television host Jimmy Savile. That decision was made while Thompson was still in charge of the company.

Thompson has said he only became aware of the investigative report by a BBC journalist at a cocktail party long after the episode had been canceled.

When he inquired later about its cancellation, he said executives told him it had been terminated for journalistic reasons.

Early last month, BBC rival ITV aired a documentary that detailed sexual abuse allegations against Savile, who died in October 2011. Since then, scores of women have come forward, alleging that they were abused by Savile when they were underage girls.

In the latest twist, Thompson's successor as the BBC's top executive, George Entwistle, resigned on Saturday after a Nov. 2 "Newsnight" report wrongly implied a former British politician sexually abused a child.

After the Savile scandal broke, Times chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr. sent the company's staff a letter saying he was satisfied Thompson had no role in the decision to scrap the investigative segment on Savile.

The Times Co. did not make Thompson available for interviews Monday.

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