Controller of BBC Fiction Jane Tranter has defended the recent decision to move BBC Films out of its West End offices and back into BBC Television Centre.

She told that the move, likely to happen 'by around the end of the year,' is intended both to 'underpin the enormous importance of BBC Films for the BBC (ie it is part of the main flesh and blood of the BBC and not out on a limb), and remind everyone of the ' BBC-ness' needed for a BBC Film.'

BBC Films will continue to work as a standalone arm, but the proximity to other departments 'is part of a desire to see all the different areas of Fiction working more closely together,' she noted.

Responding to recent concerns that BBC Films is in danger of losing its identity as a distinct outfit at the heart of the British film industry, Tranter said that it was 'business as usual' at the Beeb's film arm.

However, one significant change is that the TV section of BBC Films is being integrated into the TV Drama production and commissioning areas, leaving 'films commissioning as a more discreet group.'

Details of budgets for 2008/2009 are yet to be resolved following the less favourable than expected BBC licence fee settlement.

Over the weekend, UK newspaper The Observer carried reports of fierce cutbacks and job losses as the BBC tries to cope with the licence fee shortfall. Nonetheless, Tranter stated that there was 'absolutely no sense of anything other than an eventual increase' in resources for BBC Films.

That prediction, however, doesn't address whether BBC Films will get the extra investment for production that was touted in 2006, contingent on the licence fee.

There has been widespread speculation about the likely position of BBC Films' current head David Thompson following the current restructuring.

While it is yet to be confirmed whether Thompson will stay on, Tranter has paid fulsome tribute to his abilities 'David is one of the most talented, tenacious, creative and hard-working executives in the UK,' she said of Thompson, who has now been at the helm of BBC Films for 10 years.

Tranter suggested she would not be playing a direct part in commissioning new projects at BBC Films. 'With the strength of talent currently there within BBC Films and its current success, I see no reason for myself to get involved in the day to day commissioning of BBC Films,' she said. However, she did add: 'That does not mean that I do not care about it, nor that I wouldn't be strategically involved in the overall point/purpose/vision/heart of what BBC Films is all about.'

She continued: 'The point of Jana Bennett and Mark Thompson creating the Fiction division of BBC Vision was to allow the different genres to benefit from closer relationships with each other: and I hope that I will be able to make a contribution in this area.'

She also expressed her desire that BBC Films should continue working closely with its Hollywood partners. ' BBC Films has got excellent relationships with some of the US studios, and clearly would want to keep supporting and developing these, they are hugely important to us!!'

Changes currently taking place include 'some structural changes going on in the commercial and business affairs area as the new finance, business and genre management area of Fiction is put together,' Tranter noted. 'Claire Evans (Head of Ops and Business Affairs, Fiction) is looking across these areas in Fiction...BBC Films will continue to have a dedicated business affairs team, and it will continue to have Jane Wright in a broader general management role and a 100% focus on Film.'

BBC Films current slate of co-productions includes Sam Mendes' Revolutionary Road, starring Kate Winslet and Leonardo Di Caprio, John Maybury's The Edge Of Love, starring Keira Knightley and Julian Jarrold's Brideshead Revisited.

Among titles in post-production are The Other Boleyn Girl, starring Scarlett Johannson and Natalie Portman, and David Cronenberg's Eastern Promises.

See this week's Screen International for analysis