BBC World News: LA’s a Piece of the Puzzle

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BBC World News wants to expand into more US markets, and thus, invited a mob of bloggers/journalists to hear why at lunch. Washington correspondent Matt Frei and bureau chief Andrew Steele were on hand to explain why BBC’s international news is so renowned, and it was a little like having the Mac and the PC guy team up. Steele’s all about the depth of coverage, Frei’s the cheeky questions fella. They’re both great talkers, with well-stamped passports and anecdotes to match. So convivial, we nearly forgot that we were working.

BBC World News would launch a 24-hour cable news channel, complete with a morning show, an US-based evening program, produced by Rome Hartman, (late of the Katie Couric debacle) in DC, and long-form docs on the weekends.

Wannabe watchers can go to and click away, which beats trying to get the cable company on the phone. The LA Times got a hope squishing quote from Maureen Huff, a Time Warner Cable rep, “We’re always interested in hearing from our customers, but these expensive programmer-run campaigns are generally not that effective.” Which is why FBLA eschews the cable route.

BBC’s target audience is the 30-40, educated, traveled consumer–younger than the network news viewer and older/richer than the internet news nerds.

The ad campaign, with the tagline “See the world you’ve been missing, for unbiased global news visit,” includes 450 giant map pieces placed in Los Angeles, San Diego and Columbus, Ohio. There’s also a cable art installation on 9th and Santee in downtown LA.

Can the BBC lure enough viewers back to the box? Advertisers are plenty interested, and not just the laxative peddlers–international brands are expected to sign on in droves.

Here in LA, the local bureau is flooding the zone this weekend as the Beckhams appear in all their official glory. Until the cablers get their act together, BBC World News can be seen on KCET.