A five-year, $20 million grant awarded to the BBC World Service Trust by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in December blurs the lines between funding for traditional media and public education, the Seattle Times reports.
The grant will largely be used to support efforts to disseminate information about public-health initiatives in Bihar, one of the poorest and most underserved states in India.
The BBC World Service Trust, the international charitable arm of the British Broadcasting Corporation, works to promote human rights and reduce poverty through media and communications. It often works with the BBC World Service to get its message to the 180 million people around the globe who tune in to BBC World Service on a weekly basis and also provides technical support for news and media organizations in the developing world.
A recent Seattle Times analysis found that the Gates Foundation has spent nearly $70 million on direct grants to media organizations or for media training and research in an effort to boost and shape coverage of global health and development issues. However, the foundation told the Times that the BBC grant was different than grants it had awarded to news organizations like ABC and PBS.
"This grant does not support the news gathering capacity of the BBC," said Gates Foundation spokesman Chris Williams in an e-mail to the Times. "This grant is essentially public education."