Reuters reports that the British Broadcasting Corp. is bringing its BBC World news channel to the U.S. in a bid to capture American audiences hungry for international news. Reuters says:
American cable news and broadcast networks have pulled back in their international news coverage, creating an opportunity for the BBC, said Jeremy Hillman, the new editor of BBC World and the outgoing New York bureau chief.
"We really feel there’s actually a huge vacuum for us to fill in terms of global, responsible, impartial reporting," he said. "I don’t think we expect to be up there beating Fox and, you know, the main networks, but what we want is a good, sizable loyal audience."
I have no doubt the BBC will dish up more worldly perspective, but impartial? That’s a joke! There’s a reason why NPR – one of the socialist, liberal underpinnings in the U.S. – is one of the largest supporters and broadcasters of BBC programming. (I don’t consider myself a socialist or liberal, though I do enjoy the high-quality, if sometimes arrogant and contrived, programming from both NPR and BBC.)
What’s so great about the BBC is precisely what’s so wrong with most other U.S. news sources: the BBC has a point of view, and it’s edgy. Perhaps BBC broadcast will become a credible and significant news voice to finally balance the “fair and balanced” baloney from Fox. (And I continue to enjoy Fox precisely because it takes a point of view, and its biases are so strong and obvious.) Then again, perhaps the BBC’s “responsible, impartial reporting” jargon is a finely crafted messaging strategy to counter Fox with its own medicine.
Finally, I think that Fox’s categorization as a competitor to CNN is overblown, if not artificial. Fox is conservative, right-wing affinity programming. CNN is flat. However, BBC could emerge as serious liberal, left-wing affinity programming. While many audiences will gravitate to information sources that agree with their own agendas, at least there would finally be an ideological contender to Fox in the cable broadcast world.
I hope the BBC doesn’t fringe itself into irrelevance here in America. I hope it positions itself – while maintaining its biases, point of view and edge – as a two-horse race against Fox News. I hope it gets favorable channel assignments on the cable and satellite boxes to make the switch from one to the other easy.