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15 January, 2020 12:02:37 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 15 January, 2020 11:50:16 AM

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UK secretly funded Reuters Middle East office thru BBC

BBC, London
UK secretly funded Reuters Middle East office thru BBC

UK government in the late 1960s persuaded news agency Reuters to set up a reporting service in the Middle East, funding it surreptitiously via the BBC. This came into light as historical documents were released by the Foreign Office on how a secretive team of British civil servants tried to influence the international media during the Cold War.

The Middle East reporting service was contrived by the Information Research Department (IRD), a shadowy section created within the Foreign Office in 1948 to fight the propaganda battle with the Soviet Union. It covertly produced anti-communist material. In 1969, Reuters agreed to

establish a new office in the politically-volatile Middle East, at the secret request of the IRD. It would provide news copy in English and Arabic about local and world events, for reuse by newspapers and broadcasters in the region.

The recently disclosed documents at the UK’s National Archives show how this plan was devised and the terms in which civil servants discussed the proposal. IRD staff acknowledged that they would not have “editorial control” over Reuters, which “would not accept government control”, but they hoped the UK government would gain “a measure of political influence”. Officials thought “this influence would flow, at the top level, from Reuters’ willingness to consult and to listen to views expressed on the results of its work”.

The Reuters service replaced a previous agency called Regional News Service (Middle East), which was directly funded and ultimately controlled by IRD as one of a number of such news operations around the globe. But the department regarded it as “not cost-effective” and had decided to dissolve it.

SHK

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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