BBC World News Inks Pivotal U.S. Deal

By Alex Weprin 

One of the world’s most widely-distributed cable news channels is finally getting some major distribution in the U.S. BBC World News, the 24-hour international cable channel owned by the BBC, has inked a deal with Comcast–the country’s largest cable provider–to place it in most of the cable company’s major markets. By the end of 2012 BBC World News will be available in 15 million U.S. homes.

BBC World News is available in some 300 million homes around the world, and is the home of the dedicated U.S. nightly newscast “BBC World News America.”

The New York TimesBrian Stelter has more:

While that represents just a fraction of the 100 million American homes with cable or satellite subscriptions, it is an important foothold for the BBC, which wants to meet a perceived need for impartial international news.

The way some at the BBC see the television world, Fox News and MSNBC are occupying partisan poles; CNN is struggling to choose between substance and sensationalism; and another foreign import to the United States, Al Jazeera, is tainted by its host country, Qatar.

“We’re very deliberately saying, ‘We’re not going to tell you what to think,’ ” Mr. Horrocks said.

BBC World News Launches in Major Markets Across U.S.

Through Deal with Comcast’s Xfinity TV

London 13 December, 2011 – The BBC today announced a new deal to launch the BBC’s award-winning 24-hour international news channel, BBC World News, in major markets across the U.S through Comcast’s Xfinity TV. By the end of 2011, the channel will be available in Philadelphia, Chicago, Boston, Minneapolis, Indianapolis, Portland, as well as across Northern California, Michigan and Western New England. BBC World News will launch in additional Comcast markets next year.

BBC World News has the largest audience of any BBC channel in the world, broadcasting in over 200 countries and territories worldwide with access to more than 70 international newsgathering bureaus globally. BBC World News is expected to be in nearly 15 million U.S. homes by end of 2012.

The channel will bring U.S. audiences high-quality international news, as well as documentaries, lifestyle programs and interviews. Its programming includes the Peabody award-winning daily newscast, BBC World News America, anchored by Katty Kay.

Peter Horrocks, the BBC’s Director of Global News, called the agreement ‘one of the most important breakthroughs for the BBC’s international commercial news channel, as it extends its global footprint’.

Peter Horrocks said: “This deal represents huge progress for BBC World News in the most competitive television marketplace in the world. We know that U.S. viewers increasingly value the smart and impartial international journalism provided by the BBC.

“The BBC and BBC World News are uniquely positioned to offer this via our multilingual, multimedia journalists based around the world. From the changing markets in Europe and Asia to coverage of the Middle East, we know our audiences highly value this global perspective. We will aim to bring Comcast viewers the best of BBC journalism, providing trusted information and in-depth global analysis.”

Sandy Ashendorf, EVP Network Distribution, BBC Worldwide America commented, “The BBC is renowned for its journalistic integrity and audiences are increasingly hungry for an impartial view on global affairs. We are pleased that XfinityTV is bringing its customers a new and fresh perspective through these BBC World News channel launches. We think this is a significant step towards changing the conversation about news in the U.S.”

“Our goal is to bring Xfinity TV customers the best and most-current content, and the addition of BBC World News to our lineup is a perfect example of how that is being accomplished,” said Marcien Jenckes, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Video Services, Comcast. “We’re continually enhancing our Xfinity TV service and are pleased to be able to work with the BBC to provide a broad array of international programming to meet the diverse interests of our customers.”

The announcement comes as the BBC is strengthening its focus on news targeted for the U.S.

Earlier this month, it announced the appointment of Dick Meyer as Executive Producer for the BBC’s news services in America. He will take direct editorial oversight of television and online content produced for U.S. audiences, and coordinate coverage across all platforms, including BBC World News.

This year, BBC World News’ dedicated U.S. newscast BBC World News America was awarded a News and Documentary Emmy ® Award, in the Outstanding Feature Story in a Regularly Scheduled Newscast category, for Inside the North Korean Bubble. Other notable award wins include, two Peabody Awards, a Business & Financial Emmy, an Alfred I. duPont Columbia University Award, and two RTCA David Bloom Awards.