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BBC America is a United States cable network owned and operated by BBC Worldwide. In 2009, it acquired first United States broadcast rights for the revived Doctor Who. It held the US rights for the initial broadcast of Torchwood, until it lost them to Starz beginning with the 2011 series.

BBC America's focus is the broadcast of primarily British — but not exclusively BBC —content to the United States. Because it is not run by the BBC proper it has to pay for its content like any other American broadcaster. Its independent status also allows it to funnel some of its budget into new works, which has made it a co-production partner on several BBC shows, including Steven Moffat's Jekyll. In 2010, it became the first American network to pay for the actual production of Doctor Who since the Fox Broadcasting Company's support of the 1996 telefilm, when it signed on to co-produce the two American-based episodes of series 6. [1] It also created a large range of original video content for its official series 5 Doctor Who website, and was the sole producer of The Ultimate Guide.

Commercial network Edit

BBC America is budgeted independently of the BBC. This has had some consequences for its audience. It has created the need for the channel to run advertisements to generate revenue. This means that the programmes are edited to allow for these commercials. In some cases — such as unusually long episodes of Doctor Who like Journey's End — BBC America has aired versions missing significant portions of the BBC One versions (though it should be noted these are rebroadcasts of episodes previously aired by Syfy; BBCA did not begin airing episodes first-run until The Next Doctor). The need for the network to adopt a more traditionally American format can play havoc with the authorial intent of its shows. For instance, BBC America was the original American home of the ITV show, Primeval. To create a more standard American season, the network combined the first two British series into what it called "Season 1". This has led to some confusion between people used to its airing on BBC America and those more familiar with its original ITV broadcast. Such a scenario has not yet occurred with Doctor Who, however, with BBCA adhering to the season structure of the series, including Series 6 which was split into two sub-seasons in 2011.

Despite these drawbacks, the commercial revenue stream has provided the company with profits that it uses for the production of some new programming. Initially fueled by a desire to offer its own coverage of the 2008 US Presidential election, it originates its own news programming, distinct from BBC World News. Several British shows have received backing from BBCA beyond Jekyll. Robin Hood, The Mrs Bradley Mysteries, and Jam & Jerusalem (known stateside as Clatterford) are amongst the projects that have received BBCA backing. In 2010, BBCA funded not just Doctor Who, but also Primeval.

Nevertheless, BBCA is primarily a distributor, not a producer. As a commercial network, it must bid for the right to show BBC programming like any other network in America. It has not always won the right to debut BBC shows in America. It failed to receive the initial rights to the BBC Wales version of Doctor Who and The Sarah Jane Adventures, for instance — but it was the original American home for Torchwood, though it subsequently lost the rights after TV: Children of Earth and TV: Miracle Day aired on the Starz network. However, it will broadcast Miracle Day in 2013.

On May 28, 2009, it was announced that BBC America had won the initial US broadcast right to Doctor Who beginning with The Next Doctor and the 2009 specials. The length of their right to originate Doctor Who episodes in the US is unknown, but has showed no sign of ending.

Except for The End of Time, a two-parter that is shown in a three hour block, all Doctor Who episodes airing on BBCA are edited to fit a 60 minute timeslot which typically allows for 44-45 minutes of programming and 15 minutes of advertising along with spots promoting BBCA original programs. This requirement has only affected episodes aired in reruns, rather than the original broadcasts (such as of The Eleventh Hour and A Christmas Carol).

On demand services Edit

In some parts of the United States, BBC America runs a secondary service called "BBC America On Demand". For an additional fee, subscribers receive largely commercial-free versions of the shows running on BBC America. Thus, in a sense the network does offer some BBC content in more or less the way it was intended to be seen.

Home media sales Edit

Through a relationship with the BBC America Shop, headquartered in Pennsylvania, the network drives sales of Region 1 DVDs of its programs. Although the shop is not the only outlet for BBC Video sales in North America, it is the de facto "official provider" for BBC America, and a major supporter of the BBC America website.

The fact that the network provides an American home for some British shows creates a business rationale for releasing them to the Region 1 market. Shows like Torchwood and Jekyll would likely not have received a speedy Region 1 DVD release without the involvement of BBC America. Beginning with the DVD release of the Children of Earth miniseries, DVD and Blu-Ray release of Doctor Who and Torchwood product have now been occurring within weeks (sometimes even days in a few cases) of broadcast on BBC America.

Original DWU content Edit

Although the network has helped co-produce a couple of episodes of Doctor Who itself, the network has been the sole producer of the following original DWU content:

In addition, the original BBCA broadcast of TV: Let's Kill Hitler included a sponsor commercial that featured a "motion comic" expanding on a scene involving Amy Pond and Rory Williams engaging in a motorcycle chase. This sequence was unique to the BBCA broadcast and has not been released to DVD nor aired outside the US.

External links Edit

References Edit

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