PRX, WGBH end BBC partnership on ‘The World’

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After more than 20 years, the BBC will no longer partner with PRX and WGBH on The World.

The move was a “strategic decision reached by PRX and WGBH,” PRX Chief Content Officer John Barth told Current in an email. “This has been a long and successful partnership of more than 20 years alongside the BBC, that’s reached a natural conclusion.”

PRX and WGBH will become the sole producers of The World beginning July 1, the organizations announced in a March 31 press release. The BBC was one of the founding partners of the weekday international news program when it launched 24 years ago to address the decline of international reporting in the U.S.

“For more than 20 years, The World has been a key part of our desire to serve American audiences and has enabled the BBC’s distinct approach to global news to be heard across the country,” said Steve Titherington, senior head of content commissioning for the BBC World Service, in the release. “We’re proud to have been a founding partner of the program and we look forward to serving our audiences into the future through the momentum we have built with public media stations and programs.”

A BBC spokesperson declined further comment.

PRX and WGBH made the decision “as part of The World’s editorial growth,” Barth said in the release.

“The nature of media has changed dramatically in the 24 years since The World launched. … Based out of its newsroom at WGBH in Boston while co-produced and distributed by PRX, The World now has a robust staff and digital capabilities empowering a network of reporters and contributors who bring listeners reporting from across the globe,” Barth said. “The World’s ability to leverage editorial partnerships in key areas also allows for new reporting options.”

The World, which airs on nearly 300 stations and has 2.5 million weekly listeners, has added four editorial staffers in the past year, Barth said.

“The World staff is producing more original reports than ever –– this means more distinct reporting on news that matters around the world, all helping listeners become better informed global citizens,” Barth said. He pointed to Every 30 Seconds, a CPB-backed reporting project about the Latino electorate, and The Big Fix, a weekly segment exploring climate change solutions that launched last month.

At least one station has taken notice of the changes at The World. WAMU in Washington, D.C., moved the show back to 8 p.m. after airing it at midnight for three years.

“The producers of The World … have reinvented their newsmagazine — from updating the sound and style to deepening its content,” WAMU said in an FAQ about its schedule changes. “The program emphasizes international news and global journalism through interesting stories and engaging voices, and because of that, WAMU is committed to support innovation and reinvention and bring it to our audience as soon as its available.”

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