'An Internal Housekeeping Matter': Whitehall and the BBC Monitoring Service

Webb, Alban and Haddon, Catherine (2007). 'An Internal Housekeeping Matter': Whitehall and the BBC Monitoring Service. Political Quarterly, 78(2) pp. 214–223.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-923X.2007.00849.x


For over 65 years the BBC Monitoring Service has been providing Whitehall and its diplomatic, intelligence and security communities with a rich seam of 'open-source' information mined from the word's media. However, while the continued importance of this work remains undisputed, in 2003 the future of the Monitoring Service was brought into serious doubt as a result of a proposed major reduction in its government funding. The source of this problem was a decade old dispute between sponsoring government departments over where the burden of responsibility lay for the costs of the service. The ensuing deadlock led the Intelligence and Security Co-ordinator, Sir David Omand, to commission a Review of BBC Monitoring by Sir Quentin Thomas whose recommendations formed the basis of a new funding and governance regime for the Monitoring Service. This is the story of that dispute and the means used to achieve its eventual resolution.

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