The BBC World Service has sought and will receive £4.1 million ($5.4 million) in additional funding to counter disinformation around the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The emergency funding would to help the BBC “continue bringing independent, impartial and accurate news to people in Ukraine and Russia in the face of increased propaganda from the Russian state,” the U.K. 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 “forced labor” for reporting on the country’s assault of Ukraine. The BBC resumed operations on March 8.
Prior to the stoppage, the BBC’s Russian and Ukrainian coverage saw record levels of consumption in both countries. Since resumption, the BBC has provided circumvention advice on how to access its news services online, launched new TikTok accounts in English and Russian, and increased access to the BBC World News channel.
BBC director general Tim Davie said: “I am hugely proud of our coverage and the bravery and resilience of our colleagues reporting this difficult and complex story, day in, day out. This additional funding from the government will enable us to continue expanding the ways we are reaching audiences in Russia and Ukraine. The BBC has seen a big demand for clear, fact-based, impartial journalism to counter disinformation and our teams are working around the clock to bring people the very best independent journalism.”
“This funding will also help us with the immediate need to support staff who have been displaced, many of whom are continuing to work and provide vital expertise to the whole of the BBC, while life changes dramatically around them. We pay tribute to their incredible strength and professionalism,” Davie added.
U.K. Culture secretary Nadine Dorries said: “The BBC will ensure that audiences in the region can continue to access independent news reporting in the face of systemic propaganda from a dictator waging war on European soil.”
Until 2014, the BBC World Service was funded by a grant from the U.K. Foreign Office. Since then, it is funded from the annual U.K. TV license fee, the corporation’s primary source of income, and periodic contributions from the government. Since 2016, the U.K. government has provided the World Service £378 million in funding, including £8 million over 2021/22 to counter global disinformation.
In January, Dorries froze the licence fee for two years.