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Jana Bennett sets out her vision for BBC's international channels

Bapun Raz

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MUMBAI: Jana Bennett has set out her future vision and priorities for BBC Worldwide’s network of international channels and programming.

In her first major speech as President of Worldwide Networks and Global iPlayer, she announced that BBC Worldwide is deepening its development of original Lonely Planet programming that will bring the best of its travel expertise to BBC Worldwide’s international channels. These 'branded blocks' will be broadcast on BBC Knowledge channels which are shown in 14 countries around the world.

Bennett will also outline her plans to launch a full BBC Earth channel following the success of the branded block on BBC Knowledge in some territories.

As part of her aim to export more of the best of British creativity and culture around the world, she also announced a major international TV season called 'London Calling', which will provide a month of programming across genres including drama, factual, history, culture and music.

In the run up to the Olympic Games, BBC Worldwide Channels, including BBC Knowledge and BBC Entertainment, will air this season to highlight London as the capital of creativity – it will celebrate the people, music, fashion, art, culture and history of the British capital with a wide range of programming.

Bennett said, "In the 1960's, Carnaby Street, Mary Quant and David Bailey put London at the heart of the Swinging Sixties; fifteen years ago there was Cool Britannia, and we predict that in 2012 the spotlight will focus firmly on London again. The BBC will be there, telling the story of a world-class city to a global audience."

In the wide-ranging speech to the Banff World Media Festival conference in Canada, she will also set out her future vision for the BBC's global network of channels, announcing a number of strategic priorities.

There will be more global viewing events. The first of these
priorities will be a promise to broadcast more major events that can bring audiences worldwide together around great British events, starting with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 2012.

The move follows the success of the Royal Wedding in April which saw the network synchronise its local schedules for the first time, and the announcement of the ‘London Calling’ season.

BBC Worldwide Channels is also planning a wider partnership with Sport Relief to make the campaign a global event in 2012. Following on from the successful regional collaboration in Africa in 2010, the business hopes to develop the model across its global portfolio next year, to raise money for good causes around the world while providing great entertainment.

A commitment to growing the slate of original programming with commissions from both UK and international producers is also part of her vision. This follows the recently announced Australian originations Free Rein from Lonely Planet TV& Freehand, and The Kangaroo Gang: Thieves by Appointment from The Full Box Productions.

New branded channels will also roll out. Bennett will expand on plans to grow BBC Worldwide's existing portfolio with new branded channels, first turning her attention to BBC Earth, the umbrella brand for the BBC's flagship natural history content and giving the audience a glimpse of what a standalone channel would look like.

Bennett will mention plans to launch a new, premium HD service in a number of territories, using the new channel as a home for first-run scripted and landmark factual programmes.

Bennett will confirm plans to launch a localised feed of BBC HD in Latin America within the year. This channel will follow in the footsteps of BBC HD versions in Scandinavia, Poland and Turkey and will feature the best drama, comedy, science, natural history, music and performance programming all in glorious HD and 5.1 surround sound.

The new channel will complement BBC Entertainment and CBeebies, which are already available across Latin America.

She also talked about her vision for the global BBC iPlayer, saying that it will create editorially curated collections across genres like music, comedy, factual, natural history, children's programmes and other genres.

She further reiterated that the service will launch as 'very much a pilot', initially as an app on Apple's iPad.

She confirmed that it will be a multi-territory roll-out, with Western European countries likely to be in the first wave, as part of a staggered launch.

She explained that the global BBC iPlayer will be 'a different
proposition’ from the UK BBC iPlayer, saying: "The freedom from catch-up means that we've got a lot more flexibility in terms of what we put on there and how we present it. In overseas markets where the whole gamut of the BBC's linear broadcast isn't available then applying the on-demand model we have in the UK doesn’t make sense."

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