BBC receives government funding to counter Ukraine war misinformation

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The BBC World Service has requested and will receive £4.1m ($5.4m) in additional funding to counter misinformation around the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The emergency funding would help the BBC “continue to provide independent, impartial and accurate information to Ukrainians and Russians in the face of increased propaganda from the Russian state”, the UK government said in a statement.

On March 4, the BBC temporarily suspended its Russian journalism operations following the introduction of new laws that could see journalists fined, imprisoned or even punished with “hard labour” for reporting on the attack on the country against Ukraine. The BBC resumed operations on March 8.

Prior to the shutdown, the BBC’s Russian and Ukrainian coverage saw record consumption levels in both countries. Since the resumption, the BBC has provided bypass advice on how to access its online news serviceslaunched new TikTok accounts in English and Russian and expanded access to the BBC World News channel.

BBC Director General Tim Davie said: “I am extremely proud of our coverage and of the bravery and resilience of our colleagues who report this difficult and complex story, day in and day out. This additional government funding will allow us to continue to expand our means of reaching audiences in Russia and Ukraine. The BBC has seen a strong demand for clear, factual and unbiased journalism to counter misinformation and our teams are working around the clock to bring people the best independent journalism.

“This funding will also help us meet the immediate need to support staff who have been displaced, many of whom continue to work and provide vital expertise to the whole of the BBC, as life changes dramatically around them. We pay tribute to their incredible strength and professionalism,” Davie added.

UK Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said: “The BBC will ensure that audiences in the region can continue to access independent information in the face of the systemic propaganda of a dictator waging war on European soil. “

Until 2014, the BBC World Service was funded by a grant from the UK Foreign Office. Since then, it has been funded by annual license fees from British television, the society’s main source of income, and periodic contributions from the government. Since 2016, the UK government has provided the World Service with £378 million in funding, including £8 million over 2021/22 to tackle global misinformation.

In January, Dorries froze license fees for two years.

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