BBC vet Frei to anchor U.S. newscast

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NEW YORK -- BBC America has tapped BBC veteran Matt Frei as the solo anchor of its new U.S. newscast, which will debut Oct. 1.

Frei has worked for the BBC since 1988 and has been its Washington correspondent since 2003. He will anchor the telecast that is being executive produced by former "CBS Evening News" chief Rome Hartman.

Frei isn't a familiar face to U.S. audiences, but Hartman said he hopes that changes soon with the addition of a correspondent with "a stellar reputation as a reporter and writer who has covered tough stories and interviews."

The hourlong newscast will air at 7 p.m. weeknights on BBC America and the BBC World News Channel. Also contributing to the program will be Katty Kay, who has anchored BBC's weeknight newscast on PBS stations. She'll be the Washington correspondent and cover the 2008 presidential campaign. Frei will anchor a 6 p.m. newscast for PBS stations and Philippa Thomas will anchor a 10 p.m. newscast for PBS stations; Thomas also will anchor "Your World Today" on BBC America.

"Matt fits in very well in the finest tradition of American anchors, not the celebrity, but all of the best anchors have been great correspondents, great field correspondents," Hartman said. "Matt is a perfect example of that."

Frei said he's planning to take the newscast on the road, not just in and around Washington but to places around the U.S. The newscast also will draw on Frei's skills as an interviewer and in roundtable discussions.

"It'll be a nice mixture of breaking news and information," Frei said. Hartman likened it to a cross between a U.S. evening newscast, "60 Minutes" and the old "Nightline." But the newscast also will be a clear alternative to all of it.

"We want to look over the horizon," Hartman said. "So much of American television news these days is glorified naval gazing, very inward directed. It feels like smallball a little bit. We really want to use the great strength of the BBC, its global reach and the expertise of its correspondents. Matt embodies that."
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