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BBC given emergency funding to counter Russian disinformation on Ukraine war

The £4.1 million will support the BBC’s news coverage to the people in Ukraine and Russia.

23 March 2022

The BBC World Service will receive £4.1 million in emergency funding from the Government to help it counter disinformation about the war in Ukraine.

The broadcaster has been given the money to support its Ukrainian and Russian language services in the face of “increased propaganda from the Russian state”.

Following a BBC request, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office will provide the extra funding to cover urgent and unexpected costs that have arisen due to the conflict.

Russia Ukraine War
A Ukrainian serviceman guards his position in Kharkiv outskirts, Ukraine (Andrew Marienko/AP)

The DCMS said the funding will help the BBC relocate staff and operations to safe locations so they can continue their reporting on the war.

It will also go towards developing new and more widely accessible content delivered through a range of channels – including TV, radio and digital.

The BBC will also use the money to “tackle disinformation” and to “help local audiences circumvent the Kremlin’s media restrictions and continue to access the BBC’s journalism”.

BBC director-general Tim Davie welcomed the cash, saying: “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.”

BBC Director General
BBC director-general Tim Davie welcomed the emergency funding (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Earlier this month, the broadcaster said BBC World News had been taken off air in Russia.

Russian authorities have been restricting access to foreign and independent media outlets, including the main BBC websites, as the country continues its invasion of Ukraine.

Moscow’s parliament recently passed a law making it a criminal offence punishable by up to 15 years in prison to spread “fake” or “false” news about the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine, prompting the BBC to temporarily suspend the work of all its news journalists and support staff in Russia.

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said: “The Government is providing the BBC with an additional £4.1 million in emergency funding to help the World Service broadcast directly into Ukraine and Russia.

“In scenes reminiscent of 80 years ago, 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.

“It’s vital we lift the veil on and expose the barbaric actions of Putin’s forces.”

Foreign Office minister James Cleverly said: “Britain is calling out Putin’s lies and exposing his propaganda and fake news.

“This new funding will help strengthen the BBC’s impartial voice in Russia and Ukraine, which is critical to counter Russian disinformation and will help ensure we win the battle for the airwaves.”

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