BBC targets US audiences

24-08-2006

The BBC has launched a new 24-hour news channel in the United States in a bid to meet a growing demand for international news from American audiences.

The BBC World News channel started broadcasting in the US at the end of April, but its official launch yesterday coincided with the unveiling of a $1 million billboard campaign in New York to promote the service to new viewers.

At present only subscribers of New York's digital cable network, the Cablevision Systems Corporation, can view the channel, but the BBC is in talks with other US cable companies in an attempt to widen distribution.

Commenting on the launch of the new channel, BBC World editor Jeremy Hillman said the decision by American cable news and television networks to decrease their coverage of international affairs had created an opportunity for Britain's 83-year-old, state-funded broadcasting corporation.

"We really feel there's actually a huge vacuum for us to fill in terms of global, responsible, impartial reporting," Mr Hillman told reporters at a press conference in New York.

"I don't think we expect to be up there beating Fox and, you know, the main networks, but what we want is a good, sizable loyal audience."

The BBC also plans to begin broadcasting an hour-long morning news programme on the channel from July 3rd.

Anchored by BBC broadcaster George Alagiah, the programme will begin broadcasting at 07:00 New York-time and seek to compete with rival US networks to attract viewers before they begin their working day.

BBC World has faced financial difficulties over recent times, reporting an operating loss of £15.7 million pounds last year.

A government-commissioned report published in April said that the channel faced "significant uncertainties" over whether it could be made profitable.



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