BBC worldwide reorganizes in Asia, Middle East

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BOMBAY -- The British Broadcasting Corp. has embarked on a restructuring program in markets where its BBC Worldwide division is weak and regions like South and Southeast Asia, and the Middle East, which account for steadily growing viewership.

BBC World, the round-the-clock international TV news channel, has named Alan MacDonald to regional director for South Asia and the Middle East. Retaining his old position as head of business development, MacDonald's brief is to scout for new business from these regions, whose reliance on the BBC for news goes back to days under British colonial rule.

"These changes by our management are aimed at enhancing BBC World's position as the international news and information channel," MacDonald says. "India plays a critical role in BBC World's plans for South Asia. This is the only region in the world where BBC World has a local office to oversee its operations."

Despite intense competition from Time Warner's CNN International, BBC World claims to reach 10 million cabled homes in India. To attract local audiences, the free-to-air service is increasing news coverage from India in the run-up to the country's golden jubilee celebrations of independence from Britain.

The BBC's renewed focus on Asia extends to Taiwan, where it will soon relaunch in a half million cabled homes after a two-year absence. In Indonesia, BBC World is available via direct-to-home and cable. It has notched up 50,000 homes in Singapore and 350,000 homes in the Philippines. Earlier this year it debuted in Latin America and hopes to garner a million homes' reach by year's end. Continental Europe accounts for 30 million homes. Overall, it claims to penetrate 50 million homes worldwide.

On other fronts, BBC Worldwide Sales and Marketing Director in London Jeff Hazell will be given additional responsibilities as regional director for the Americas. Jonathan Howlett will be regional director for Africa, while remaining head of airtime sales.

"These management appointments, together with the key programming input from BBC News, underline our commitment to establishing BBC World as the leading global news organization," BBC World Managing Director Mark Young says. "They will allow BBC Worldwide to maximize commercial, distribution and marketing initiatives to ensure the continuing expansion of the operation."

Copyright June 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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