BBC shifts distribution of news shows to WETA

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WETA will take over distribution of BBC World News and BBC World News America to PBS stations starting Saturday.

KCET in Los Angeles has served as BBC Global News’ U.S. distributor since 2008 and currently distributes its programs to 112 million households. The BBC issued a request for proposals as its contract with KCET came to an end.

WETA responded to the December RFP with a submission highlighting its experience in marketing underwriting opportunities for its public-affairs shows. The decision to partner with WETA wasn’t difficult, according to BBC Global News CEO Jim Egan.

“BBC Global News and WETA are aligned in more ways than one,” Egan said. “Not only is WETA the home of world-class news programming like PBS NewsHour, but our Washington bureau and WETA are practically neighbors in D.C. We feel this closeness — in proximity and programming — will make our partnership successful.”

The journalistic reputation WETA has showcased with PBS NewsHour also proved to be a good fit for the BBC.

“For us, it made total sense, because the BBC would complement our portfolio and enhance our ability to present international news — which of course is on PBS NewsHour as well,” said WETA CEO Sharon Percy Rockefeller.

Rockefeller said WETA will use its resources — including its national sales team, which specializes in marketing public affairs programming — to market and promote BBC World News and BBC World News America to stations and potential sponsors. “We hope to increase their corporate and foundation underwriters and raise their profile, along with our own,” she said.

“Our goal will be to increase the number of times and the number of stations on which this is aired as a complement to the NewsHour and Washington Week, and to increase the news footprint within PBS and on PBS stations,” Rockefeller said.

BBC Global News programs are now available through PBS Plus, a move that streamlines distribution, said Jason Daisey, WETA’s COO & EVP. Daisey said his team is prioritizing helping PBS stations fit the BBC newscasts into their schedules.

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