Beeb Unveils U.S. Plans

The British Broadcasting Corp. announced Monday that it is planning to set up a new joint venture company to distribute its first two U.S. channels.

Bob Phillis, chairman of BBC Worldwide, said the operation would involve a news-based net and a general entertainment service.

Speaking at the Financial Times Cable, Satellite and New Media Conference, Phillis indicated that the BBC hoped to have the entertainment channel up and running within the next 12 months provided further research suggests it can be financially viable.

Phillis indicated the venture is likely to involve U.K. media group Pearson, a partner in the two European cable nets, BBC World and BBC Prime, launched last month.

U.S.-based cable giant Cox Communications is the third party in the European alliance. But Phillis, while stressing that the Yank media company needs local partners, was unable to say if Cox would be involved.

The BBC has not yet finalized what kind of programming the new entertainment channel would offer, but it is clear the BBC is now contemplating a station running American material as well as the pubcaster’s own shows.

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