BBC World News America
Empty4 p.m. Monday, Oct. 1
The British have come! It seems almost too good to be true: a daily television newscast tailored to American viewers that covers actual international news -- and covers it extremely well.
Pipe dream though it might seem, here it is, an hourlong weekday broadcast from BBC America that very much represents the Brits saving we Yanks from ourselves. "BBC World News America" hit the air Monday and immediately put the so-called broadcast network evening newscasts to shame.
Live to the East Coast at 7 p.m. (which means 4 p.m. PT), this newscast is a typically reserved affair featuring a spare set, a low-key vibe and a capable but divertingly unflashy anchor in Matt Frei. And on Day 1, it not only covered the bases far better than anyone else in the TV news pantheon but also actually made a little global news itself during an interview with former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in which she gave her approval for a U.S. military strike inside Pakistan to assassinate Osama bin Laden.
Watching this hour was almost surreal to see the BBC staffers' capacity to comprehensively sum up world affairs with in-depth attention in the course of 60 minutes (including commercials). The broadcast covered the disturbing, tragic unrest in Darfur and Myanmar, served up exclusive, expansive interviews with Bhutto, First Lady Laura Bush and Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, and examined the campaign for the presidency from a perspective that was refreshingly honest rather than overwrought. That it's all filtered through a U.S. lens makes this newscast all the more remarkable, demonstrating that this sort of authentic news coverage can be pulled off minus the seemingly obligatory histrionics and sensationalism. "BBC World News America" is calm, measured and light years more journalistically sophisticated and informative than its domestically bred competition. It's also significantly more internationally focused, to say the least. May it live long and prosper.