BBC confirms radical changes

Corporation redirects $900 million in funding

The BBC announced what it described Tuesday as “a step change” in its activities.

The plans, described as “putting quality first,” involve cutting some services, including halving the number of sections on its website, to redirect approximately £600 million ($900 million) a year — a fifth of its budget — by 2013-14 to beef up U.K. content.

The pubcaster will invest 20% less a year on imported shows and films, close digital radio stations 6Music and the Asian Network, streamline bureaucracy and plow more coin into children’s content, international newsgathering and “ambitious U.K. drama and comedy.”

Also set for the ax are multimedia teen brands BBC Switch and BBC Blast.

While core services will remain intact, and arguably strengthened, the changes break with the empire-building of the BBC’s two previous directors-general, Greg Dyke and John Birt.

In a robust presentation, current director-general Mark Thompson claimed the new policy amounted to a radical change that would see the pubcaster concentrate on what it does best — delivering high quality, distinctive content.

The BBC said it is also planning “to exit non-BBC branded channels overseas,” which includes the Animal Planet joint venture with Discovery. In fact, the pubcaster’s 14-year collaboration with Discovery may end entirely.

The BBC says it plans to concentrate on “nonexclusive partnerships.”