Tuesday November 13, 2012

NEW YORK -- New York Times Co. CEO Mark Thom-pson 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 Septem-ber after more than three decades with the public broadcaster. He joined the company as a production trainee in 1979 and 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 an 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 it had been canceled. When he inquired later about its cancellation, he said executives told him it had been terminated for journalistic reasons.

Conservative lawmaker Rob Wilson told The AP last month that he has written Thompson seeking more answers.

Savile, who died in October 2011, was known for his eccentricity, garish tracksuits and Cuban cigars. Early last month, BBC rival ITV aired a documentary that detailed sexual abuse allegations against Savile.

Since then, scores of women have come forward, alleging that they were abused by Savile when they were underage girls, sometimes in BBC dressing rooms. Savile's behavior was the subject of speculation long before that, but it was never formally investigated by the BBC.

In the latest twist, Thompson's successor as the BBC's top executive, George Entwistle, re-signed on Saturday after "Newsnight" wrongly implied that a former British politician sexually abused a child.

After the Savile scandal broke, Times Chairman Arthur Sulz-berger Jr. sent the company's staff a letter that said 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 on Monday. A spokesman said he spent his first day on the job meeting with employees and learning the company.