The British government has announced an unexpected one-off payment to state broadcaster the BBC. The £20 million ($24.13 million) tranche will be transferred to the broadcaster over the next two years, the UK Foreign Office said on Monday.
The package comes as part of an Integrated Review program document advocating for a ‘Global Britain’ originally adopted under former PM Boris Johnson.
The money is set to be funneled to the BBC World Service and will be used to “support English-language broadcasting,” as well as to “counter disinformation,” the foreign office explained, implying the funds will be specifically used to counter Russia.
“The refreshed Integrated Review concludes that democracies like the UK must go further to out-cooperate and out-compete states that are driving instability. Developments over the past year, particularly the conflict in Ukraine, have shown the importance of being able to counter the hostile use of disinformation and tackle the spread of harmful state narratives,” it claimed.
UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly praised the decision, hailing the BBC as “the world’s most trusted international broadcaster,” as well as a “vital” tool “in the fight against the spread of disinformation around the world.”
“This funding will ensure people across the globe continue to have access to accurate, high-quality journalism,” Cleverly asserted.
The statebroadcaster, which recently suspended a freelance sports presenter over a tweet criticizng government policy, received a similar lump sum payment in 2021, with the same proclaimed goal of battling purported fake news.
Back then, however, the payment was more than twice as modest as the new one, with ‘only’ £8 million allocated at the time to “tackle harmful disinformation, challenge inaccurate reporting around the world and improve digital engagement.”