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Demotion, Resignation Result From Racial Slurs

Media Firm to Start Sensitivity Training

Associated Press
Friday, January 14, 2005; Page E05

STOCKHOLM, Sweden -- The head of media company Metro International SA's U.S. division is moving to a lower position and a company board member has stepped down over racial slurs the men admitted to making two years ago.

Hans-Holger Albrecht had been on the company's board of directors since 2002. Steve R. Nylund will no longer serve as Metro USA's president, although he will remain an executive vice president with the London-based media company, which publishes free daily tabloids worldwide.

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The men's comments had come under scrutiny after the company, which owns Metro USA Inc., announced it was selling a 49 percent stake of its Metro Boston edition to the New York Times Co., the parent company of the Boston Globe.

Thursday's issue of Metro Boston announced the demotion and resignation on the front page and touted steps the company is taking to encourage workplace diversity, including sensitivity training for employees and establishing citizen advisory boards.

The newspaper also said Metro International and its U.S. division have a "zero-tolerance policy regarding discrimination in any form."

The company said Nylund unwittingly made the remark after a colleague at an April 2003 event in Rome asked him to translate a joke -- which included a racial epithet about blacks -- into English. Nylund apologized for the comments.

Several months after Nylund's remark, Albrecht used a racial epithet in remarks before an audience in Stockholm. "I accept responsibility for my unfortunate statement and its unintended consequences," Albrecht said in announcing his resignation.

The New York Times Co. has said it was discussing the allegations with Metro USA's management but so far has given no indication it will pull out of the $16.5 million deal.

Under its deal to buy a minority stake in Metro Boston, the New York Times Co.'s Boston Globe will provide nonexclusive news stories to Metro, which will maintain editorial independence.

On Tuesday, the Boston Herald filed a complaint with the Justice Department's antitrust division, alleging that the acquisition is anticompetitive and would allow the Times Co., through the Globe, to dominate readership and advertising.

"We believe that the Globe's primary motivation here is to capture a larger share of advertising and put more pressure on the No. 2 newspaper in one of the few remaining competitive newspaper cities left in America," said publisher Patrick J. Purcell.

Metro International publishes 42 editions in 63 cities in 17 countries in Europe, Asia, North America and South America.

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