k-pop Surf logo

Row over Lineker goes to the heart of confidence in the BBC, says Ofcom boss

Row over Lineker goes to the heart of confidence in the BBC, says Ofcom boss

The BBC’s reputation is at stake in the “difficult” process of drafting new guidelines for social media amid the Gary Lineker controversy, the head of Ofcom has said.

Melanie Dawes, chief executive of the media regulator, said the dispute over impartiality goes “straight to the heart of the BBC’s wider reputation, beyond news and current affairs coverage”.

The head of Ofcom said the corporation will need to consider freedom of speech and impartiality when reviewing guidelines after a “difficult episode” with Lineker.

The Match of the day the presenter was taken off the air after a tweet comparing Tory asylum rhetoric with 1930s Germany sparked an argument over impartiality and a boycott of several regular pundits and commentators.

On Monday, the BBC’s chief executive Tim Davie apologized for the “potential confusion caused by gray areas” of the social media guidelines and confirmed that a review was underway.

Ms Dawes told the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Select Committee that she welcomed a review of the guidelines to “see if they are still right in a world of increasing social media use.”

Dame Melanie said the BBC’s social media guidelines were not a matter for Ofcom but for the broadcaster’s board to “draw that line” to protect the BBC’s reputation.

“There is ambiguity there. I think it was probably designed to allow some degree of flexibility. I think it’s safe to say that what they wanted was not achieved,” she told MPs.

She added: “But I think it’s a difficult issue for them, I don’t think it’s going to be straightforward and to some extent it will be about the level of trust especially with their staff.”

The head of Ofcom said all organizations face questions about what they require from staff. However, she said that with freelancers and actors at the BBC “it’s a slightly different question and I think they have to consider freedom of speech along with the wider reputation they have for impartiality.”

Dame Melanie said she spoke to BBC chief executive Mr Davie “several times over the weekend” while working on Lineker.

Match of the day host Gary Lineker leaves his home in London

(PA wire)

It comes as Labor Party culture secretary Lucy Powell accused Tory ministers and MPs of staging a “cancellation campaign” that saw Lineker pull out of the air – likening it to Vladimir Putin’s regime.

“What does she think the outside world is like that a well-liked sportscaster gets taken off the air for tweeting something the government doesn’t like? It reminds me more of Putin’s Russia.”

But Tory Culture Minister Julia Lopez fired back, arguing that any comparison to Moscow’s authoritarian regime was “disgraceful” and “misplaced”.

Gary Lineker surrounded by reporters after the BBC brought him back to Match of the Day

Meanwhile, the head of Ofcom has also said the impartiality dispute with Lineker will not affect the royalties debate, confirming that a “new operating license” for the BBC will be published next week.

The report will detail the cuts to BBC local radio stations that were announced in October as part of a new strategy to create a “modern, digital” broadcaster.

Speaking about the cuts to the BBC, Dame Melanie said: “I don’t think it was their finest hour in terms of public communications, there was a lot of concern about these changes.

“Behind the scenes… it was quite difficult to get the information we needed from them. We were looking for real details for these local radio changes, understanding the evidence that justified why they changed things at certain times of the day.”

During the meeting, Dame Melanie declined to answer questions about how the BBC can operate with a CEO who is “so compromised” – referring to BBC CEO Richard Sharp after it was revealed he was involved in facilitating an £800,000 loan for Boris Johnson.

She later refused to answer questions about impartiality in the case of broadcaster Fiona Bruce who was accused of trivializing domestic violence during a discussion about Stanley Johnson while hosting a BBC show Question time.

Tory MP Sir Bill Cash has suggested the creation of a new independent “impartiality adjudication body” to monitor the BBC’s impartiality alongside Ofcom during the Commons debate.

Ms Lopez noted that the BBC’s mid-term charter review is examining the complaints system and editorial standards and impartiality.


K-pop news Daily

The latest on what’s moving k-pop world – delivered straight to your inbox




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *