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Simon Farnsworth, former head of tech at Discovery Inc, the media company that operates the Discovery Channel, is set to be the new executive vice-president and chief technology officer (CTO) at News UK. Farnsworth replaces Christina Scott, who was CTO at News UK from 2016 to 2021, before joining energy company OVO in October 2021.
Farnsworth’s role involves leading a multidisciplinary technology team, which supports the tech behind all of News UK’s brands, including publishing titles The Times, The Sunday Times and The Sun; audio brands talkSPORT, Virgin Radio, Times Radio and TalkRadio; and the soon-to-launch TalkTV.
The CTO role also covers managing the structure and architecture of the businesses technology requirements, as well as attracting new skills and capabilities.
Rebekah Brooks, CEO of News UK, said: “Technology has never been more vital for our business and Simon has the breadth of experience to drive innovative and strategic thinking for the company and each of our brands, while contributing to global News Corp opportunities. His expertise in video and broadcast will be invaluable as we increase our own capability in this area. I am delighted to have him on board.”
Farnsworth originally announced he was leaving Discovery earlier in March. In a LinkedIn post covering his decision to leave, he wrote: “After six happy and challenging years at Discovery, I’ll be leaving at the end of April. It has been an unbelievable experience which leaves me with an overwhelming sense of gratitude to all the amazing people I have been fortunate to work with.
“To have been lucky enough to be involved with three Olympic Games, the acquisition of many companies, company-wide transformations, a multitude of large technology projects and to travel the world is a life-changing journey. What next? Firstly the summer off with the family, then the next chapter.”
Commenting on the next chapter in his career, Farnsworth said: “It is extremely exciting to be joining News UK in a phase of growth and innovation. The rapidly growing digital propositions of its iconic brands, as well as the launch of TalkTV, mean technology has a central role to play and I look forward to this new challenge.”
Big data analytics is among the major technology initiatives at News UK supporting its digital brands.
The company recently expanded its use of Google BigQuery, which it has been using for the past five years to support data science. BigQuery is now being used to streamline its data warehousing. This has enabled News UK to unify first-party customer data with product service interaction data, giving teams an integrated view of reader behaviour.
BigQuery has also helped sales teams to improve accurate insights for advertising partners, creating a more targeted browsing experience for readers. By enabling self-service business intelligence, the data platform team is also able to improve customer personalisation.