Curious about WETA UK, the new all-Brit, all-the-time channel? Then check out its section on the station’s new blog, Programmer’s Choice. Entries are aimed at viewers (as well as pubcasters) wondering how and why the Arlington, Va., station decided to drop its WETA How-To (Create) to launch the nation’s only British multicast channel.
Kevin Harris, station manager, explains in one post that while writing a white paper on the future of WETA’s multicast offerings, he and programmer Bryant Wilson discovered not only that those channels are popular within the Washington, D.C., market, but also that that the cable network BBC America was underserving the local audience. “There isn’t a show on BBC America that comes close to matching the large audiences that regularly watch British programs on WETA TV26,” Harris writes. “Doc Martin, Keeping Up Appearances, Sherlock Holmes and Masterpiece literally dwarf all of the programs on BBC America.”
“There was an opportunity for a public television British broadcast channel in the D.C. area,” Harris writes. “One of our WETA digital channels should play this role.” The main channel and WETA HD had to stay. Ditto for WETA Kids, due to the station’s 50-plus years of commitment to educational programming. So, WETA How-To (Create) had to go — although viewers will still be able to find those shows on the main channel on Saturdays.
WETA UK premieres this weekend. Harris tells Current that WETA staffers will celebrate the launch with tea and scones.