BBC turning inward for comedy and drama

The BBC has set forth a major budgetary change that will result in the British broadcasting giant relying less on imported content from the U.S. and others, and more on homegrown fare, reports Steve Clarke of Variety.

“It is the first time in living memory, if not ever, that the
expansionist corp has voluntarily conceded territory,” writes Clarke.

Approximately $900 million will be redirected toward U.K. content, and investment in imported shows and films will decline 20%. The BBC would not be allowed to spend more than 2.5% of the amount generated
by the license fee on acquisitions.

“I am not dissing imported shows,” BBC director-general Mark Thompson said. “Our audiences very
much enjoy shows like ‘Mad Men’ and ‘The Wire.’ … But in a digital world a lot of these shows are available elsewhere,
including other public service broadcasters like Channel 4 and Five. Spending
less on acquisitions will allow the BBC to spend more of the license fee on
British content.”

The moves are among a series of left turns by the BBC that also involve other aspects of TV, online and radio. Thompson said spending on the website would be cut 25% by 2013 — but that more money would be devoted to children’s content and global news gathering.

The changes are subject to a three-month review period, Clarke notes.

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