The PJ Tatler

Your tax dollars now funding the BBC in addition to NPR

Defund NPR?

That’s so last week.

Because the Obama administration is now taking your American tax dollars and using them to fund the BBC World Service — Britain’s state-financed radio network.

You read that right: Britain‘s state-financed radio network.

Sure, the amount is only a small percentage of their overall budget, and it’s for a “good cause,” but the American taxpayer is only having our money sent overseas because the British taxpayer is coming up short:

The BBC World Service is to receive a “significant” sum of money from the US government to help combat the blocking of TV and internet services in countries including Iran and China.

In what the BBC said is the first deal of its kind, an agreement is expected to be signed later this month that will see US state department money – understood to be a low six-figure sum – given to the World Service to invest in developing anti-jamming technology and software.

The funding is also expected to be used to educate people in countries with state censorship in how to circumnavigate the blocking of internet and TV services.

It is understood the US government has decided the reach of the World Service is such that it makes investment worthwhile.

The US government money comes as the World Service faces a 16% cut in its annual grant from the Foreign Office – a £46m reduction in its £236.7m budget over three years that will lead to about 650 job cuts.

Another area in which the BBC World Service is expected to use the US money is continuing its development of early warning software.

This will allow it to detect jamming sooner than it does currently where it relies on reports from users on the ground.

“Software like this helps monitor dips in traffic which act as an early warning of jamming, and it can be more effective than relying on people contacting us and telling us they cannot access the services,” said Egan.

The BBC also expects to use state department money to help combat internet censorship by establishing proxy servers that give the impression a computer located in one country is in fact operating in another, thereby circumnavigating attempts by repressive governments to block websites.

That’s all very fine and dandy, but why is it up to Americans to dole out the funds for the BBC to hire software programmers and computer experts? If this project is oh-so-important, can’t the British government find a few spare pounds for their own state outlet?

Forget about political bias for the moment (the BBC World Service is firmly “internationalist” and often slants left-of-center when it gets a chance): If Americans are outraged that we’re financing our own unnecessary public media outlets, then shouldn’t we be outraged that we’re starting to pick up the tab for the British taxpayers as well?

How about tit-for-tat: Instead of defunding NPR completely, we simply hand it over to the British Foreign Office and let them finance the whole thing?

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