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Seeking Wider Reach, BBC Looks to Rework Stateside TV News Plans

The BBC is shaking up its news distribution plans here in the U.S.

The Beeb is hoping to expand domestic carriage of its 24 hour news channel BBC World News, as well as to add new readers and viewers to its content online and elsewhere on TV.

As part of the move, the evening newscast “BBC World News America” will be leaving BBC America, and will instead be televised twice a day on BBC World News.

The reformatted program will also be made available to PBS stations nationwide. The BBC already has a programming agreement with PBS to present some news programming, the new deal simply expands on it.

BBC World News has limited distribution in the U.S., but the situation in the Middle East has led many people to ask cable providers for more international news options. While much of that chatter has been about Al Jazeera English, BBC World News may fit the bill.

The plan is for BBC America to focus exclusively on entertainment programming, complemented by the news programming on BBC World News.

More information, including expansion plans for BBC.com, after the jump.

BBC STRENGTHENS NEWS IN U.S. WITH NEW MULTIPLATFORM APPROACH

· Increased digital investment in BBC.com U.S. edition

· Strong drive to distribute BBC World News 24-hour news channel

· New format BBC World News America available to PBS stations

· BBC AMERICA to focus on prime time entertainment

New York, February 18, 2011 – BBC Global News and BBC Worldwide America today jointly announced a fresh approach to news distribution in the U.S., including increased investment online and a plan to broaden the reach of its television news output.

Peter Horrocks, Director, BBC Global News, said: “Making our news accessible to the widest possible audience is at the heart of the BBC and this new approach in the U.S. gives audiences more opportunities to access the BBC’s outstanding journalism across multiple platforms. With a 24/7 news channel, a more widely available flagship newscast, and increased on-demand video created for the web, BBC News will meet current audience needs and adapt as they continue to evolve.”

Further investment will be made in the U.S. Edition of the BBC News website (www.bbc.com/news), which already attracts more than 15 million U.S. users per month, and BBC World News, the BBC’s 24-hour global news channel, will be a priority.

Herb Scannell, President, BBC Worldwide America, said: “The BBC has a well deserved global reputation for the independence and quality of its journalism, as it its recent coverage of Egypt proves. With networks staking out ideological positions on the right and the left, or caught in a state of flux, there has never been a greater need for an impartial news offering for cable. Add to that the plethora of emerging alternative delivery systems lacking a vital news source and it’s the perfect time to extend our footprint in this market and strengthen our distribution efforts for BBC World News channel.”

Online, investment will be targeted at adding dedicated video journalists to the Washington D.C. team currently producing the U.S. edition of BBC.com and enhancing the video production facility. The goal is to create a number of new franchises including original and innovative video features, which will complement and strengthen the BBC’s award-winning coverage and analysis of international events and issues, as well as bringing a fresh perspective to the most significant domestic stories.

“Americans look to the BBC to ‘connect the dots’ between America and the world in ways very few news organizations can,” said Miranda Cresswell, SVP BBC.com. “This new investment will allow us to ramp that up and respond to growing demand for online news video content.”

As part of Scannell’s plan for two clearly defined cable channels, BBC AMERICA will return to its roots, delivering high-quality and innovative entertainment programs throughout primetime. The evening news program, BBC World News America, anchored by Matt Frei and Katty Kay, will migrate from BBC AMERICA and become a twice nightly staple on the BBC World News channel. It will also be available to PBS stations expanding the program’s audience and driving awareness of the 24-hour BBC World News channel.

Rome Hartman, Executive Producer of BBC World News America, adds: “This plan, and our reformatted newscast, allows us to reach more viewers than ever before. We already have an existing partnership with PBS and share core journalistic values, so this move makes perfect sense.”

The new approach cements a strong presence for BBC News across all platforms in the U.S. while setting BBC AMERICA on a clear entertainment course. In addition to television and online, BBC News content can also be found on radio via PRI and BBC World Service, on mobile and through the BBC News app for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch.

Notes to editors:

- BBC World News America will be broadcast live Monday- Friday at both 4pm and 6pm ET on BBC World News from March 28

- It will be offered as a 30 minute commercial-free program on public television stations, under the existing distribution agreement with KCET in Los Angeles, under which BBC newscasts reach 97% of U.S. households

- PBS stations have been carrying newscasts from BBC World News since 1998

- BBC AMERICA will continue to air BBC World News weekdays, 5am-8am

About BBC World News

The BBC attracts a global audience of 241 million people to its international news services including BBC World Service and the BBC World News television channel.

BBC World News, the BBC’s commercially funded international 24-hour news and information channel, is owned and operated by BBC World News Ltd, a member of the BBC’s commercial group of companies. BBC World News is available in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide, and reaches 306 million households and more than 1.8 million hotel rooms. The channel’s content is also available on 87 cruise ships, 40 airlines, 39 mobile phone networks and a number of major online platforms including bbc.com/news. For further information on how to receive BBC World News, download schedules or find out more about the channel, visit bbcworldnews.com

About BBC.com

BBC.com, one of the world’s most respected media brands, delivers in depth news, business, technology, travel and lifestyle coverage to over 15 million* users a month in the U.S.

About BBC AMERICA

BBC AMERICA delivers U.S. audiences high-quality, innovative and intelligent programming. Established in 1998, it has been the launch pad for talent embraced by American mainstream pop culture, including Ricky Gervais, Gordon Ramsay, Graham Norton, and successful programming formats including ground-breaking non-scripted television like Top Gear and top-rated science-fiction like Doctor Who. Owned by BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the BBC, BBC AMERICA has attracted both critical acclaim and major awards including an Emmy, four Golden Globes and ten Peabody Awards. The channel attracts one of cable’s most affluent and educated audiences and is available on digital cable and satellite TV in more than 68 million homes. It broadcasts in both standard and high-definition, with content available On Demand across all major digital platforms.

Online, www.bbcamerica.com is the place to go to dig deeper into pop culture with a British twist.

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