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BBC Media Action, formerly known as the BBC World Service Trust, is the BBC's international development charity, funded independently by external grants and voluntary contributions. The purpose of the organisation is to use media and communication to reduce poverty, improve health and support people in understanding their rights. It works in partnership with the BBC World Service and other local media and development partners in over 35 developing and transitional countries around the world.
The charity was founded in 1999 and grew out of earlier BBC initiatives, including a charity called 'Marshall Plan of the Mind'. This was set up to encourage high standards of journalism in the Former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe in the 1990s.
The charity is funded by external grants and voluntary contributions and works with many media, non-governmental, academic and donor organisations around the world. In November 2011, the UK government's Department for International Development (DFID) announced a five-year grant of £90m to the charity.
In December 2011 the name was changed to BBC Media Action.
In 2011 there was controversy in America over the American government's discussion of funding the BBC World Service Trust to combat censorship in China and censorship in Iran