BBC America is an American television network, owned and operated by BBC Worldwide Americas, and available on both cable and satellite.

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History Edit

The channel launched on March 29, 1998[1], broadcasting comedy, drama and lifestyle programs from the BBC and other British television channels.

In the early days, the channel focused on repeats of popular lifestyle shows such as Changing Rooms and Ground Force. BBC America's head of programming later stated that it was important for the channel to establish a niche since non-UK viewers found the lifestyle shows appealing. The evening schedule is where most new programming would appear.

The network removed the popular British soap opera EastEnders from the schedules in 2003 after low ratings, but provoked a high number of complaints from viewers which caught the attention of the media.

After CEO Paul Lee moved to ABC Family, the network appointed Bill Hilary from Comedy Central. He appointed Kathryn Mitchell to the newly created position of GM. Under Hilary's tenure, BBC America was restructured; it moved its main offices to New York City and saw its programming budget increase substantially.

Distribution and availability Edit

BBC America is distributed in association with Discovery Networks, the United States division of Discovery Communications and parent company of the Discovery Channel, which also handled affiliate and advertising sales until this moved in-house on April 1, 2008. [1]

The network is not subject to funding from the UK licence fee by law: the BBC cannot fund any of its channels that are not available in the United Kingdom. [5] As this is the case, the channel carries advertisements.

Outside the U.S. Edit

BBC America is also available in Bermuda on Bermuda CableVision's digital cable TV service.

On Demand Edit

BBC America On Demand refers to a selection of BBC America programs available as video on demand programming on many U.S. digital cable systems. These video-on-demand programs are usually available for 2-4 weeks before being rotated out. These programs are offered commercial-free though some programs are interrupted for network promos.

iTunes Store Edit

As of Q2 2008, select BBC America Shows are available on Apple's iTunes Store.

Programming Edit

The following is a list of programming currently offered by the channel. While many of the shows were produced by the BBC, some of the shows are either Channel 4 or ITV programs, or reruns of American programming that was co-produced by the BBC:

  • Ashes To Ashes
  • Bargain Hunt
  • BBC World News (discontinued April 2009)
  • BBC World News America
  • Cash in the Attic
  • Dancing with the Stars
  • Doctor Who
  • Dragons' Den
  • Gladiators
  • Gordon Ramsay's F Word
  • How Clean Is Your House?
  • Kitchen Nightmares
  • Last Restaurant Standing
  • Mistresses
  • Primeval
  • Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares
  • Skins
  • The Graham Norton Show
  • Top Gear
  • Torchwood
  • You Are What You Eat

Most of the non news programming is edited either for adult content or to allow for commercials. However, many comedy programs run in specially formatted 40-minute blocks that allow them to run to their original broadcast length, though adult content is still edited.

Original Programming Edit

BBC America began producing its own shows and joint productions in 2004. This has included Sharpe's Challenge, part of the Sharpe series of TV movies and co-produced with ITV; also The State Within, a co-production with the BBC; Jekyll and most recently BBC World News America.

Newscasts Edit

Until April 4th, 2009, BBC America simulcast several newscasts during the day from its sister channel, BBC World News.

The weekday morning (6:00 - 9:00 am ET) simulcast which included BBC World News newscasts, World Business Report, Sport Today, Asia Today and a one-hour newscast called World News Today, was canceled without any announcement on April 6th, 2009. The weekend morning (6:00 - 6:30 am ET) simulcast was also abruptly canceled on April 4th, 2009. According to BBC America the simulcast was canceled because of disappointing ratings.[6] BBC World News was replaced in its morning time slot by re-runs of Cash in The Attic and The F Word.

At 7-8 pm ET and repeated at 10-11 pm ET, BBC America airs BBC World News America, presented live from Washington by Matt Frei. Katty Kay serves as Washington correspondent. Rome Hartman (formerly of CBS Evening News) is executive producer.

The network was in discussions to unveil a weekly news program fronted by Newsnight host Jeremy Paxman. He was to introduce a synopsis of Newsnight items with an international aspect and was expected to bring his brash interviewing style to bear on American politicians. "Jeremy Paxman is the sort of person that Americans will just eat up," Garth Ancier told the Financial Times. An international edition of Newsnight debuted on February 29, 2008, in the 10 pm time slot. This program was canceled in November 2008, but the cancellation was not announced until April 2009.[6]

During major breaking news situations, the network will sometimes take BBC World News's coverage and pre-empt regular programming. The London Bombings in July 2005 were one such example. However, BBC World News itself is not currently widely available in the US as a separate channel (although it does appear on several cable systems throughout the United States, generally in lieu of BBC America; one such example is the New York based service Cablevision).