THE BBC has admitted to taking a massive £2 million of funding from the European Union in the run up to the referendum.
The corporation, which already gets £3.7 billion from the licence fee, took the cash over the last three years to expand its research and development (R&D) arm.
But critics have blasted the broadcaster, saying the payouts give the impression the BBC “is being paid to do the EU’s bidding”.
It comes as doubts have been cast over the the corporation’s ability to remain impartial in the run up to the EU referendum, which David Cameron has implied could begin next summer.
Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen said: “Everyone knows that the BBC has an inbuilt pro-EU bias, but it should be above reproach during this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to vote on the future of our relationship with Europe.
“It already receives £3.7 billion from the licence fee, and taking EU funding unavoidably creates the impression that it is being paid to do the EU’s bidding.”
The BBC’s R&D program – which received the funding – is working on projects like 3D broadcasting and ultra-high definition filming, and has previously splashed out cash on arty digital media installations.
The broadcaster is not allowed to spend the EU money on its programmes or news gathering, and sources inside the corporation have insisted the funding has had no impact on editorial decisions.
They added that the EU grants could help the entire broadcasting sector in the development of new technology.
A BBC spokesman defended the funding, saying: “BBC News protects its impartiality by not permitting any external funding, which includes EU grants.
“Our annual report discloses any income received from grants covering a variety of areas, of which, a very small proportion comes from the EU for non-news research and development projects.”
This is not the first time the broadcaster has been accused of political bias.
Last year the BBC was slated by Scottish Nationalists, who accused the broadcaster of having an anti-independence bias in the run up to the Scottish referendum.
Earlier this year British Broadcasting Corporation news Director James Harding admitted the referendum would “test perceptions of the BBC’s impartiality”