EXCLUSIVE: Here’s the message Garth Ancier just sent to his staff. I can’t say this is a surprise: I’d been hearing rumors to this effect. UPDATE: I’ve learned Ancier told BBC 5 months ago in July of his plans to step down.

This morning we will announce that I intend to step down in March as President of the U.S. portion of the company, but remain a non-executive director of BBC Worldwide America.

Together we have achieved a great deal over the past three years and I’m immensely proud of what we’ve accomplished.

BBC America is performing at an all time high. We’ve increased distribution to 65 million homes, doubled primetime ratings and established a raft of mainstream hits including Torchwood, Top Gear and Primeval. Bringing ad sales in-house has increased revenue by 39% in year one and Mark Gall and his team have doubled the channel’s advertiser base. Establishing an in-house affiliate team makes our distribution efforts stronger and is already driving the roll out of BBC America HD. As many of you know, plans are also well advanced for the launch of pre-school channel CBeebies next year.

One of my proudest achievements is the commissioning of BBC World News America. Rome Hartman and his team have done a remarkable job. WNA has become a cornerstone of BBC America’s schedule and is retransmitted throughout the world. The program upholds all that is great about BBC News, but packages it effectively for the U.S. market. In its first year it won a much- deserved Peabody Award, and this year it has received six Emmy nominations – fingers crossed for December 7!

I believe we’ve now aligned BBC America, DVD and DTO to effectively exploit content across all windows. In digital, Beth Clearfield has spearheaded important deals with Amazon, Xbox, Netflix and iTunes. BBC America is now one of the top 15 television providers on iTunes in the U.S. Next year, our digital story will get even stronger with the launch of a U.S. facing edition of BBC.com.

On the BBC Worldwide Productions front, Dancing With The Stars remains a reality juggernaut and is about to wrap its ninth season on ABC. I’m delighted Jane Tranter joined us in January to head up the U.S. production operation adding scripted production to our slate, and that our New York-based team, set up to serve the East Coast cable industry, has won several new commissions.

In Home Entertainment, Planet Earth continues to be a remarkable success for Burton Cromer and team. It is now the number one DVD documentary of all time in the U.S., selling over four million units. We look forward to the release of follow-up, Life, early next year.

The business is firing on all cylinders – and now seems a suitable time to pass the day to day running of the U.S. over to someone new. I sincerely thank all of you for your continued hard work and dedication. Without you we could not have grown the BBC brand so significantly or increased profits by 78%. I very much look forward to continuing to work with you in my new role.

A search for my replacement is underway – but in the meantime it’s business as usual!

Best regards,