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BBC to Open NY Production Arm for Cable Nets

The BBC plans to open a New York production office devoted to making original series for cable networks. Hiring for a team is underway now and the company is aiming to open the office by the end of the year.

The New York office builds upon the company's LA-based production team, which makes broadcast shows like the reality series Dancing With the Stars on ABC, and Grease: You're the One That I Want on NBC, as well as CBS' upcoming scripted musical drama Viva Laughlin. BBC Worldwide, the BBC's commercial branch, announced its plans for the New York production office in an annual report out today, in which it highlighted pre-tax profits of £111.1 million, or about $222 million.

The company is aiming to produce about three or four high-quality, unscripted cable series a year, said Garth Ancier, president of BBC Worldwide Americas' U.S. operations, in an interview. The New York office will house about four creative executives and production will take place on both coasts.

“We’re proud of the fact that we’re pretty nimble – more than the big studios – at putting together high-octane shows for both network and cable,” he said.

The BBC's own US-based cable network, BBC America, regularly earns critical acclaim with its own original dramas, but it is only in about 56 million homes and its viewing audience is tiny - an average 42,000 total viewers during second quarter, according to Nielsen Media Research. By producing shows for other cable networks, the BBC could presumably get its programming in front of more viewers.

Also as part of the annual report, the company set growing BBC America as a goal, through increasing its carriage on cable systems, acquiring new programming and developing its news coverage. The company earlier this month hired former CBS Evening News producer Rome Hartman to executive produce a new hour-long nightly newscast aimed at U.S. audiences.