The BBC has been accused of a “conflict of interest”, as it emerged that the corporation has taken more than £300,000 in funding from the European Union since the vote for Brexit.
Critics say the payment is bound to lead to bias in the state media’s reporting, something which the corporation has previously been accused of. In March 2016 Breitbart London reported on an uncritical documentary about President Obama made by the BBC using EU taxpayer funds.
The BBC is already guaranteed a handout of £3.7 billion from the public purse each year, yet it has emerged that the corporation is set to receive €352,750 for its part in the EU Commission’s Multidrone project.
The project is billed on the Commission website as a collaboration which “aims to develop an innovative, intelligent, multi-drone platform for media production”. German state media outlet Deutsche Welle is also set to receive over €400,000 for its part in the project, as are companies from Italy, Greece, France and Portugal, among others.
Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen said: “It beggars belief that the BBC hasn’t declared this funding, instead saying people should ask the EU. It’s far from transparent.
“If they’re taking any funds from outside the UK they need to declare it, otherwise it’s a clear conflict of interest.
“The BBC is a publicly-funded body and should have the transparency it demands from other entities. If I were taking money from a foreign donor, that would be illegal. And yet the BBC can get away with it.”
In the past few years has taken millions in funding from the European Union for a range of projects, including over €2.4m in 2015 for a project in Syria designed to build community cohesion, which was co-run with Turkish and Lebanese media outlets.
In 2012, the Telegraph revealed that the “BBC received millions of pounds from the European Union and local authorities over the past four years”. Specifically, “BBC Worldwide borrowed over £141 million from the European Investment Bank” as well as receiving more than £3m in grant funding.
However, BBC sources have dismissed allegations that the payments are secret as “total nonsense” because the payments are detailed on the European Commission’s website.
“Details of funding are published by the EU for all to see,” a spokesman said, adding: “We have strict rules in place to ensure that any external funding we receive does not comprise our editorial impartiality or integrity – and BBC News does not receive any grant funding from the EU.
“This funding is for a research and development project co-ordinated by Bristol University looking at the use of drones for media production to cover outdoor events – and it will benefit the wider industry. It has no influence on editorial impartiality.”
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