BBC has news for U.S. audience

Hartman to build, exec produce nightly hourlong show

The first executive producer of "CBS Evening News With Katie Couric" has signed on to create a new one-hour BBC World News newscast aimed at U.S. viewers.

Rome Hartman, who was reassigned in March as exec producer of Couric's low-rated newscast, will be executive producer of the unnamed newscast available weeknights on BBC America and BBC World News beginning sometime in the fall. Hartman, a 25-year veteran of CBS News, also will coordinate the production of other BBC newscasts in the U.S., including those that air on PBS.

The project is part of an initiative from BBC America's new chief, Garth Ancier, to further de-fine the network. It will draw on BBC's worldwide resources and team of correspondents.

"It's a great opportunity to make use of the unparalleled capacity of the BBC to cover the world and bring that to an American audience," Hartman said Monday. "In the big picture, the mission is to bring the smart and sophisticated and in-depth coverage of the world that the BBC has come to stand for for decades to an American audience I believe is ever hungrier for just that thing."

His boss, BBC World News executive director Sian Kevill, said the newscast will "take the best of our international coverage but present it in a way that we hope will be closer, more relevant to American audiences." It will run an hour on weeknights beginning at 7 p.m. ET.

Hartman said it was too early for specifics about the newscast, which will be based out of BBC World's bureau in Washington. That will be a relief to Hartman, who for more than a year commuted between his home in suburban Washington and New York City when he executive produced the "CBS Evening News" first for Bob Schieffer and then for Couric. Rick Kaplan replaced him in March.

Hartman said that he and CBS News president Sean McManus worked hard in the interim to find a job for him at CBS News that would be "interesting and challenging." But he had heard from Ancier about the possibility of a newscast, and Hartman said Monday that he was intrigued.

"In the end it felt like an opportunity and a challenge that was too good to pass up," Hartman said. "It doesn't reflect any dissatisfaction with CBS or any failure on anybody's part." He said he had tremendous respect for McManus and Couric.

"I'm very proud of my time at the 'Evening News' and my time working with Katie. I am rooting for her and the 'Evening News' even from outside the CBS umbrella, that's for sure," Hartman said.

But he's turning his attention toward creating a broadcast that he hopes will be meaty and smart for American audiences. For her part, Kevill is looking forward to what Hartman comes up with for the BBC.

"This is a program that should be a must-see for anybody who is a heavyweight in business, politics or any area of life in America which requires an understanding of the world," she said.