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BBC Monitoring

BBC Monitoring
BBC Monitoring.svg
FormationAugust 26, 1939 (1939-08-26)
Region served
ServicesOpen-source intelligence
LeaderLiz Howell
Parent organization

BBC Monitoring (BBCM) is a division of the British Broadcasting Corporation which monitors, and reports on, mass media worldwide using open-source intelligence. Based at New Broadcasting House, the BBC's headquarters in central London, it has overseas bureaux in Cairo, Delhi, Istanbul, Jerusalem, Kyiv, Miami, Nairobi, Ramallah, Tashkent and Tbilisi.

A signals-receiving station for BBC Monitoring is at Crowsley Park in South Oxfordshire, close to BBCM's former (1943–2018) headquarters at Caversham Park. The service's first home (1939–1943) was at Wood Norton Hall in Worcestershire.

BBC Monitoring selects and translates information from radio, television, the press, news agencies and online outlets from 150 countries in up to 100 languages. Reporting produced by the service is used by the government of the United Kingdom and commercial customers such as Oxford Analytica, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and Liverpool John Moores University. The BBC announced in July 2017 that it planned to sell the site at Caversham Park and move employees to London, which took place in May 2018.


The organisation was formed in 1939 to provide the British Government with access to foreign media and propaganda. It provided the government with valuable information during World War II, particularly in places where foreign journalists were banned. The organisation played an important role in helping observers keep track of developments during the Cold War, the disintegration of the Iron Curtain and collapse of the Soviet Union. Also monitored were the Yugoslav Wars and the Middle East.


Although administratively and editorially part of the BBC, until 2013 BBC Monitoring did not receive any funding from the licence fee; instead it was funded directly by its stakeholders as well as by subscriptions from official and commercial bodies throughout the world. The principal stakeholder is the Cabinet Office and subscriptions were also received from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Ministry of Defence and the BBC World Service. Other customers include other government departments, private sector and voluntary sector organisations.

In the 2010 BBC licence fee settlement, the BBC agreed to take on the government's funding of BBC Monitoring from 2013/2014, finding the £25 million required from the licence fee.

Reported on BBC News (17 January 2011),[citation needed] BBC Monitoring cut 72 posts following a £3 million cut in funding over the next two years. Director of BBC Monitoring, Chris Westcott, said: "Regrettably service cuts and post closures are inevitable given the scale of the cut in funding."

The proposal is to cut £3m from the service's costs by closing the 72 posts — about 16% of its staff — but it expects to create 18 new posts. Mr Westcott added that a period of consultation with staff on the plans were due to begin shortly. The BBC agreed to finance Monitoring from 2013/14 as part of the 2010 licence fee settlement which froze the annual colour licence fee at £145.50 for six years. The agreement also saw the corporation agree to take over the Foreign Office-funded World Service from 2014.

The House of Commons Foreign Affairs and Defence Committees strongly condemned the gradual scaling down of BBC Monitoring's capabilities in two separate reports published in late 2016.[citation needed] The reports claimed that BBC Monitoring's operations have been adversely affected by cuts. Both Committees demanded proper funding to ensure BBC Monitoring's future.


BBC Monitoring has been led by the following directors:

  • Liz Howell has served as director since March 2019
  • Sara Beck served as the director from February 2016
  • Lucio Mesquita served as director until 2016
  • Chris Westcott served as director from April 2003 to March 2015.
  • Andrew Hills served as director from 1996 to 2003

This page was last updated at 2022-08-31 02:42 UTC. Update now. View original page.

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