BBC Monitoring (often abbreviated to BBCM) is a division of the British Broadcasting Corporation which monitors, and reports on, mass media worldwide. Based at New Broadcasting House, the BBC's headquarters in central London, it has overseas bureaux in Cairo, Delhi, Istanbul, Jerusalem, Kabul, Kiev, Miami, Moscow, 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) HQ at Caversham Park. The service's first home (1939-1943) was at Wood Norton in Worcestershire.
BBC Monitoring selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 100 languages. Reporting produced by the service is used as open-source intelligence by elements of the British Government and commercial customers. 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 are 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 third sector bodies.
Reported on BBC News (17 January 2011), 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. 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
Chris Westcott left BBC Monitoring in March 2015 having been its Director since April 2003, and was succeeded by Lucio Mesquita until he left the BBC in 2016. Sara Beck served as the director of BBC Monitoring starting from February 2016. Liz Howell has been the Director of BBC Monitoring since March 2019.
- BBC Monitoring at BBC Online
- Media Reports at BBC News
- "BBC Monitoring: MPs raise fears over service's future". BBC. Retrieved 23 December 2016.
- "BBC:The real story:BBC licence fee settlement" Retrieved 16 January 2011
- "BBC licence fee frozen at £145.50 for six years". The Guardian. 19 October 2010. Retrieved 16 January 2011.
- Open Source Stupidity: The Threat to the BBC Monitoring Service
- Chris Westcott, Director, BBC Monitoring
- Lucio Mesquita appointed as Director of BBC Monitoring