Dominic Mohan is expected to focus on securing further digital rights deals for content of interest to News Corp’s UK newspaper readers, along the lines of January’s exclusive rights deal to show clips of Premier League football matches online and on mobile devices.
His move after four years as editor and 17 years with Britain’s top-selling daily tabloid completes an overhaul of the senior positions at News International, the UK newspaper arm rocked by scandals since 2011 over phone hacking and allegations of corrupt payments for stories.
On Friday, two journalists from The Sun were charged with allegedly paying public officials for information about psychiatric patients and a member of the royal family, the Crown Prosecution Service said.
David Dinsmore, NI’s director of operations and a former editor of The Sun’s Scottish edition, is to replace Mr Mohan. The announcement comes after NI’s appointment of a new chief executive, chief financial officer, general counsel, chief compliance officer, director of communications and new editors of The Times and Sunday Times.
Mr Mohan’s new role underscores the publisher’s growing interest in securing rights to exclusive digital content, particularly sports rights, to strengthen the value of online subscriptions to The Sun and other titles in the new News Corp, which will include brands from The Wall Street Journal to The Australian.
He will report to Robert Thomson, the chief executive of the new News Corp and former editor of The Times and the Wall Street Journal, who has appointed several former newspaper executives to senior roles in the new company.
The new company will launch with $2.6bn of cash and no debt, giving it substantial capacity for investment. Mr Thomson told investors this month that NI had been working with colleagues at Fox Sports and The Wall Street Journal “to develop a different kind of content feed for smartphones”, adding that there were opportunities to repurpose content across its brands.
Mr Dinsmore, 44, is unusual in British tabloid editors in having a news background rather than a career as a celebrity gossip columnist. From Glasgow, he started work in local newspapers at the age of 17 and worked his first shift on The Sun at 22. He is credited with helping steer the Premier League negotiations.
Mr Mohan’s editorship covered a tumultuous period in which several of his staff were arrested as part of investigations into News International; the Leveson Inquiry shone a harsh light on Fleet Street; and The Sun set up a Sunday edition following the closure of the scandal-struck News of the World.
“I am proud of the way we have informed and amused our readers in recent years and also campaigned on their behalf in difficult economic times,” he said. “I am confident The Sun will go from strength to strength, and now look forward to a new challenge of helping a brand-new company find its feet and build a strong future for its journalism across the globe.”
Mr Dinsmore said: “I relish the opportunity to build on the historic strengths of The Sun, and harness new digital opportunities to offer our loyal readers more than ever. Our exclusive rights to show mobile football clips of the Premier League will be a major enhancement this summer and a sign of more to come.”
Separately, News Corp declined to comment on a German report that James Murdoch, its deputy chief operating officer, was planning to become chairman of Sky Deutschland, its German pay-television business, later this year. He would replace Chase Carey, News Corp’s chief operating officer, in a further expansion of his role since leaving London.
Additional reporting by Robert Cookson