The House of Commons’ Defence Select Committee issued their Open Source Stupidity report, which warns about national security concerns resultant from the British Broadcasting Corporation’s planned cuts to the funding and staff of BBC Monitoring. The Defence Committee said such cuts will “put at risk the vital future provision of open source information”.


BBC Monitoring is a division of the BBC which monitors, and reports on, mass media worldwide from 150 countries in 100 different languages. Since being founded in 1943, Caversham Park in Berkshire has been the home of BBC Monitoring. BBC Monitoring does not deal with any confidential or secret material, rather it collates, translates, and analyses foreign broadcasts and other open source material, including social media, for Government and commercial customers, including international organisations, non-governmental organisation, charities, and private companies.

The Committee reported that the information produced by BBC Monitoring is relied upon by the Ministry of Defence, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and other Government departments, including the security and intelligence agencies. Whilst many of those departments have their own in-house open source collection teams, the Government reportedly explained that they are used primarily to supplement the service provided by BBC Monitoring.


The BBC have proposed to cut almost 100 of its 320 personnel in the Monitoring service, as well as to sell its headquarters at Caversham Park, which is co-located with the Open Source Enterprise (OSE), the United States government organisation dedicated to open source intelligence.

The Defence Committee said that the planned relocation of BBC Monitoring from Caversham Park to New Broadcasting House in London would “loosen and weaken the relationship with OSE and undermine the working conditions and scale of operations of the BBC Monitoring staff”. It furthermore questions whether the BBC has the right to sell the property, which was provided in World War II by the Government.


The report concludes that the Committee are “deeply concerned” that the proposed changes to BBC Monitoring will lead to a “degradation of the service provided”, and calls on the Government to “reinstate funding of the service in order to protect its skilled staff and specialist infrastructure”.

The report recommends that the Government assign specific funding for the continuation of the Video Unit, which the BBC intends to close on financial grounds and because it is of interest only to the Ministry of Defence.

The Committee’s report goes even further, suggesting that “if the BBC is not willing to co-operate, then the Government should take back ownership of Caversham Park; restore the modest central funding required and reconstitute the Monitoring Service as a state-owned Open Source Information Agency, in order to guarantee its future, once and for all”.