Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the chairman and publisher of the New York Times, said Thursday that he was "satisfied" incoming CEO Mark Thompson played no role in a ballooning sex scandal at the BBC.
Thompson (left), who previously served as the director-general of the BBC, was accused by staffers of striking down an investigative report by the BBC's "Newsnight" program that revealed children's TV host Jimmy Savile, who died in 2011, was a pedophile who coerced teenage girls into having sexual relations.
Thompson is slated to become the Times chief on Nov. 12.
"I'm sure you've read recent reports of controversy regarding the BBC's decision to cancel a news story last year," Sulzberger told investors during a third-quarter earnings call. "Mark has provided a detailed account on that matter, and I am satisfied he played no role in that decision."
An interview published in yesterday's paper grilled Thompson about his time at the BBC and his alleged role in covering up the scandal.
"There is nothing to suggest that I acted inappropriately in the handling of this matter," Thompson said Wednesday in the interview published Wednesday with media reporters Christine Haughney and David Carr. "I did not impede or stop the 'Newsnight' investigations, nor have I done anything else that could be construed as untoward or unreasonable."
The Times' public editor Margaret Sullivan urged the paper's reporters to "aggressively cover" the controversy as it begins to attract attention from the British government. Police in the United Kingdom say Savile may have had as many as 200 victims.
"Our opinion was then, and it remains, that [Thompson] abides by the highest standards," Sulzberger said. "He's the ideal person to lead this company."
The scandal comes at an inconvenient time for the troubled Times.
The newspaper missed analyst projections Thursday during its quarterly earnings announcement, as profits slid 85 percent to $2.28 million or two cents a share. Wall Street predicted the company would post profits of $0.08 per share for the quarter.
Revenue also sunk 0.6 percent to $449 million — it earned $451.6 million in the same quarter last year. Analysts had projected sales of $479.23 million for the quarter.