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BBC World News goes for 15 million audience in the US

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By Noel Young, Correspondent

December 13, 2011 | 3 min read

The BBC has struck a deal with Comcast, the largest cable network in the US , to carry the BBC World News channel across America. The aim is 15 million homes by end of next year.

A big move into the US

The first-of-a-kind deal follows a decision by the Beeb to chart "a new course for expansion in the United States" in the belief that viewers’ appetites for international news are not being satisfied by CNN, Fox News and MSNBC, says the New York Times .

Peter Horrocks, the BBC’s director of global news, said, “We’re a global news organisation for a globalised world,” .

The cash-strapped BBC believes the deal will bring in crucial commercial revenue . In Britain taxpayers pick up the BBC tab through TV licence fees. But BBC World News takes ads and distribution fees, just like its big sister channel, BBC America.

Until now, BBC World News has been available in just six million US homes, mainly in New York City and Washington.

By the end of the month it will be available in Comcast homes in Philadelphia, Chicago, Boston, Minneapolis and other markets.The aim is a total of nearly 15 million homes by the end of 2012, Mr. Horrocks told the NYT.

This is a fraction of the 100 million American homes with cable or satellite subscriptions, but "it is an important foothold for the BBC, which sees a need for impartial international news," said the Times.

The BBC believes that Fox News and MSNBC are partisan; and CNN is struggling to choose between "substance and sensationalism".

“We’re very deliberately saying, ‘We’re not going to tell you what to think,’ ” . Horrocks said.

BBC World News is currently broadcast into more than 200 countries and territories. It is is sober and hard-nosed by American standards. Horrocks said Comcast had been very receptive to the argument that "there is a market in the U.S. for a much more international perspective on the news.”

The BBC is already the No. 1 non-United States news Web site among Americans

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