UK media reported last month that the BBC World Service would receive £4.1 million in emergency funding from the UK government to help it counter Russian disinformation about the war in Ukraine. According to a report by the Evening Standard:
March 25, 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. 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”.
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The Evening Standard report notes that 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. Since Russia invaded Ukraine, the UK government has increased its resources to counter Russian disinformation and influence operations. These efforts have included:
- In March, the UK government sanctioned 14 Russian entities and people, including state media organizations, for spreading “fake news and narratives.”
- In March, Ofcom announced that due to Russia’s new laws, which effectively criminalize any independent journalism, it revoked RT’s license to broadcast in the UK. British businessman Christopher Wood, running the firm behind the UK arm of RT, has earned more than £2m from the firm in just three years.
- In February, BBC News published a guide to the methods used by pro-Kremlin media outlets in their information war against Ukraine.