BBC World takes on Murdoch in his back yard

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The Independent Online

As Rupert Murdoch's Fox News and CNN lob accusations of bias across America's political divide, the BBC hopes its rolling news channel BBC World could be a significant force in US television.

The BBC is close to new distribution deals for the channel, which has just launched in the New York area and has ambitions to go US-wide.

BBC World shares a small amount of programming with the corporation's domestic news channel, BBC News 24, but is part of the BBC's commercial operations and is meant to turn a profit by 2010. Cracking the US is part of that plan, and the corporation has unveiled a $1bn advertising campaign in New York.

Billboards across Manhattan are highlighting the BBC's reputation for objective reporting. Several invite passers-by to text their response to pictures illustrating domestic political issues, such as immigration; for example, are Hispanic farm workers "citizens" or "criminals"? BBC World began broadcasting on the New York area's Cablevision in April, after appointing Discovery Networks, the owner of the Discovery Channel, as its distribution partner. Cablevision has two million subscribers.

BBC sources say Discovery is close to deals offering BBC World through other cable services.