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BBC show to challenge U.S. ayemcasts

The international arm of the BBC is hoping to make a dent in the morning-show wars Stateside with an upscale offering, “World News Today.”

London-based show will have the same international focus as BBC World News but attempt to connect those stories to American auds, while offering an alternative to the personality-driven shows on network and cable TV.

Show will be hosted by George Alagiah, who also anchors the BBC’s “Six O’Clock News,” Blighty’s top-rated evening newscast.

“We have a global perspective at a time when American networks are spending less on global coverage,” Alagiah said. “We’re an alternative, but an alternative that is not copycat journalism or more of the same.”

The show will air at 7 a.m. ET starting in July on BBC World News, the Beeb’s international network that is seeking to expand its viewership in the U.S.

BBC World News reached its first distribution agreement with New York-area cable operator Cablevision Systems in April and is in talks with other U.S. cablers.

Initially, the news show will also be carried on the Beeb’s U.S. entertainment channel, BBC America.

“Our plan is to be in every household,” Alagiah said. “I won’t pretend it hasn’t been tough, but we did not go to Cablevision just to stop there.”

The Beeb is up against cable and satellite operators skeptical of the American aud’s interest in foreign news and need for yet another 24-hour news channel; Al Jazeera Intl. is facing a similar challenge.

The BBC is betting that the cacophony of personality-driven shows from NBC’s “Today” to Fox News Channel’s “Fox and Friends” leaves an opening for a just-the-facts newscast with an international bent.

“Now more than ever, American audiences are interested in finding out about global events and how they have an impact on their lives,” Alagiah said.

BBC programming has a loyal audience in the U.S. The half-hour “BBC World News” show carried by PBS stations has a daily viewership of close to a million, which makes it competitive with some of the top cable news offerings from Fox News Channel and CNN.

The BBC’s Web site receives nearly half its traffic from the U.S.

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