Rome’s British Ascent

By Chris Ariens 

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Gail Shister
TVNewser Columnist

Friends, countrymen: Rome Hartman won’t raid his old shop for new talent.

Hartman, who left CBS in June to develop and executive produce a U.S.-based newscast for the BBC, says he won’t reach out to former colleagues to fill “any highly visible editorial roles.”

On principle. (Remember those?)

“It seems like bad form,” says the 25-year CBS veteran. “It feels a little like insider trading to just go and say, ‘We know you’re good from a previous context and we want to take you away.’

“I left CBS on very good terms. I have a million friends there. I want to keep them all.”

On the other hand, were a CBS correspondent or anchor to hear about an open slot and want to pitch Hartman, “I would be perfectly open to talking to them.”

(Quick detour: Hartman, formerly EP of Katie Couric‘s “CBS Evening News,” says he has no plans to read Ed Klein‘s new “tell all” biography of the anchor. “I’m pretty busy.”)

BBC America’s hour-long 7 p.m. newscast, to be based in Washington, is expected to launch in October. It will be simulcast live weeknights on BBC America and on BBC World News, says Hartman.

Look for an announcement next week on on-air talent. Hartman’s not talking, but smart money says the anchor will come from within the BBC.

“You could make arguments in both directions,” he says. “In the end, it’s all about finding the right person.”

With more than 70 bureaus around the world, the BBC “has more correspondents in more places, more talent and more editorial expertise than any broadcast organization, including CNN,” Hartman gushes.

As a Yank, Hartman is in the decided minority among his mostly-British staff. Thus far, he has avoided picking up an accent — faux or otherwise.

“My wife would just whack me if I started affecting a British accent,” he says. “Madonna does it. That’s a very good reason for me not to””