Rome Hartman Heads to BBC

Former CBS Evening News producer Rome Hartman has left the network for the BBC, where he will executive produce a new hour-long nightly newscast for BBC America and the internationally-distributed BBC World News network. Based in DC, he will also help shape all other U.S.-based news for the two channels as Executive Producer, BBC World News.

Hartman leaves CBS News after nearly 25 years at the network. He had been in an advisory role in the news division since March when he was replaced by Rick Kaplan as executive producer of TheEvening News with Katie Couric.

The hire is a major one for Garth Ancier, the former NBC/Fox/WB executive who in February ( )

joined BBC Worldwide Americas in a new slot as president of all U.S. operations. Ancier has said since he took the slot that bolstering the company’s U.S.-based news is a main priority.

Hartman has been at CBS News since 1983, when he started as a field producer in the division’s Atlanta bureau. After 15 years at 60 Minutes, he was named Executive Producer of the long-struggling Evening News at CBS in November, 2005.

His move is one of a string of major broadcast-news talent leaving the networks to go to less-distributed cable channels (BBC America is available in around 55 million homes; BBC World News reaches about 76 million globally).

Longtime Nightline anchor Ted Koppel and his producing partner Tom Bettag landed at Discovery in January, 2006 after leaving ABC News; 44-year CBS News veteran Dan Rather ended up at the tiny high-definition cable channel HD Net after he left the network in June, 2006.

The new nightly BBC newscast is slated to begin running this fall. Hartman, reporting to BBC World Head of News Richard Porter, will shape the program with coverage from BBC reporters in the U.S. and abroad.

“More and more Americans are seeking smart and sophisticated coverage of the world; coverage the BBC is uniquely capable of providing,” said Hartman in a statement.

In announcing Hartman’s departure today in an internal memo, CBS News president Sean McManus cited Hartman’s “extraordinary contributions” to the division, called him a “superlative journalist,” and expressed regret at not being able to keep him at the company.

“Rome and I worked very hard to try to find a position for him at CBS News commensurate with his many talents and abilities,” McManus said in the memo. “While it’s a sad day for us to be saying goodbye to him, this is an exciting opportunity for Rome, and I know he will do exceptionally well, as he has with every professional challenge he has ever faced.”