BBC World News Gets Xfinity TV Distribution

The BBC World News channel will gain distribution on Xfinity TV through a pact with Comcast, the biggest U.S. multichannel video distributor.

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, according to BBC Worldwide America. 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 more than  200 countries and territories worldwide with access to more than 70 international newsgathering bureaus globally. It has been slow to gain U.S. distribution, though. Existing affiliates include Cablevision Systems and Cox Communications and markets, and Verizon's FiOS TV.

BBC World News is expected to be in nearly 15 million U.S. homes by end of 2012, up from about 6 million homes now, the BBC said. U.S. mothership BBC America is in more than 70 million homes.

BBC World News programming includes the Peabody award-winning daily newscast, BBC World News America, anchored by Katty Kay, plus other news, interview and documentary shows.

In a release, 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."

Horrocks also 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.

Sandy Ashendorf, EVP Network Distribution, BBC Worldwide America, added in the release: "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," Marcien Jenckes, senior vice president and General Manager of video services at Comcast, said in the release. "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."

Earlier this month, the BBC named 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.