BBC Monitoring is a division of the British Broadcasting Corporation which monitors, and reports on, mass media worldwide. Based at Caversham Park in Caversham, Reading in southern England, it has a number of overseas bureaux including Moscow, Nairobi, Kiev, Baku, Tashkent, Cairo, Tbilisi, Yerevan, and Delhi. A signals-receiving station for BBC Monitoring is at Crowsley Park in South Oxfordshire, close to Caversham Park. BBC Monitoring selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. Reporting produced by the service is used as open-source intelligence by elements of the British Government and commercial customers.
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 recently 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.