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Unlike American newscasters, BBC anchorman Philip Hayton is refreshingly lacking in personality. 

News to Think About

If you're a news junkie who hasn't discovered BBC World News live from London, you're out of the loop.

PBS-TV (Channel 23 in Richmond) is airing the half-hour broadcast at 6 p.m. weeknights, and the difference it makes in the perspective on news from abroad is sometimes astounding. International stories that don't even show up on the poll-driven American network newscasts are accorded full treatment on BBC World News. Days before the U.S. networks covered the appalling violence in East Timor, the BBC broadcast was providing as much as 10 minutes of coverage each evening. And BBC coverage of President Clinton's journey to the Antipodes focused more on substance than style, with more of a view of what it meant to the world, not just to us here in the U.S.

Another way to look at it is that BBC World News is aimed at adults, not an audience with the attention span of a toddler. It's a newscast that seems to believe its audience actually thinks.

BBC anchorman Philip Hayton, unlike today's U.S. network anchormen, demonstrates not a trace of personality in his broadcasts. What's happening in the world is the point of his delivery, and that's refreshing — almost reminiscent of Chet Huntley or Walter Cronkite 30 years ago. And while American networks are closing foreign bureaus to please the reigning bean counters, the BBC still has 250 correspondents in 50 international bureaus.

There's little to quibble about with this stimulating new addition to broadcast news available on the American airwaves, except perhaps the short weather forecast that closes the program each evening: The temperatures posted on the world map are difficult to read. But that's a small quibble
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