Ukraine war: BBC World Service granted extra funding

By Malu Cursino
BBC News

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The funding, which will help cover urgent costs, followed a request by the BBC

The BBC World Service will receive more than £4m in extra funding from the UK government to help counter disinformation about the Ukraine war.

The BBC made the request for the money, which will also be used by the Ukrainian and Russian language services to cover urgent and unexpected costs.

It welcomed the announcement and said the money would help relocate staff and operations to safe locations.

The two language services have had record audiences since the invasion.

The announcement on Wednesday followed a BBC request to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and the Foreign Office.

"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," BBC director general Tim Davie said.

"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," he added.

In a statement, the government said it would give the World Service emergency funding "to help it continue bringing independent, impartial and accurate news to people in Ukraine and Russia in the face of increased propaganda from the Russian state".

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said the funding would help the World Service broadcast directly into both countries.

Ms 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."

Before 2014, the World Service was funded with a grant from the Foreign Office.

But since then, it has been primarily funded by the licence fee, although in 2016 the government agreed to provide funding for it to expand.

Between 2016 and 2021, the government has contributed £378m, including £8m announced for 2021/22 to fight disinformation around the world.

War in Ukraine: More coverage

Russia restricted access to the BBC on 4 March. But the BBC has since announced several steps to ensure Russian audiences have "access to its independent journalism".

The steps include providing circumvention advice, launching new TikTok accounts in English and Russian, and increasing access to the BBC World News channel.

Moscow's parliament recently passed a law making it a criminal offence to spread "fake" or "false" news about Russia's war in Ukraine. The offence is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

This prompted the BBC to temporarily suspend the work of all its news journalists and support staff in Russia. The BBC's news coverage in Russia has now resumed.