Network axes program due to low ratings

BBC America, owned by BBC Worldwide, has axed its three-hour morning international news block due to low ratings.

The changes to the schedule kicked in Monday without prior announcement from the BBC.

A BBC America spokeswoman confirmed that the simulcast from the BBC World News channel, which aired at 6 a.m. ET seven days a week, is being replaced by lifestyle fare such as “Kitchen Nightmares,” presented by foul-mouthed U.K. celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay.

“The news ratings were steady, but they weren’t as strong as we needed them to be,” she said. “Unfortunately, in today’s economic climate, we have to ensure that we put our resources behind programs that rate highly.”

The twice nightly “BBC World News America,” presented by Matt Frei and anchored from Washington, D.C., is popular with auds and will continue to air at 7 and 10 p.m.

However, the U.S. edition of public affairs show “Newsnight,” which ended in November, will not return. The show was fronted by the famously acerbic Jeremy Paxman.

But “Newsnight” material will continue to air, according to Rome Hartman, exec producer of “BBC World News America.”

“This week we will carry Mark Urban’s report on the remaking of the American military, and next week we start the ‘Ethical Man’ series, which was co-commissioned by ‘Newsnight’ and ‘World News America,’ “ he said.

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