Posts Tagged ‘BBC’

Lineker v. BBC: Social Media Guidelines and why the fish rots from the head on impartiality row

March 21, 2023

Over a week ago a row broke out at the UK’s national broadcaster, the BBC, over a tweet by its senior football anchor and Match of the Day presenter, Gary Lineker. The one-time England record goal scorer is notable for never receiving a yellow card despite making over 650 appearances in his playing career. However, it was his performance on social media that saw him earn a red card from the top executives at the BBC and taken off air.

The controversy started on the back of a recent policy announcement by the current Conservative government in the UK. To tackle illegal migration into the country, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Home Secretary Suella Braverman have launched a new policy campaign ‘Stop The Boats’. This new bill will see anyone who arrives in the UK illegally, swiftly returned back to their country of origin or a safe third country, such as Rwanda.

On the back of this announcement, Gary Lineker – technically a freelance employee at the BBC – retweeted a video from the Home Secretary’s own Twitter account where she was announcing the new bill and said “Good heavens, this is beyond awful.” Responding to another Twitter user who criticised his tweet, Linkeker followed up by stating: “There is no huge influx. We take far fewer refugees than other major European countries. This is just an immeasurably cruel policy directed at the most vulnerable people in language that is not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 30s, and I’m out of order?

It was this comparison of the UK Government’s new bill to Nazi Germany that sparked a national debate around impartiality within the BBC. According to the BBC’s editorial guidelines, staff are subject to such guidelines on social media – even on personal accounts. Those editorial guidelines outline that “audiences must be able to trust the BBC and be confident our editorial decisions are not influenced by outside interests, including political or commercial pressures.

However, long before Gary Lineker, behaviour on social media became a problem for the BBC. It has dealt with long-standing issues over impartiality claims resulting from personnel right at the top of the broadcaster. In February 2021, then Prime Minister Boris Johnson appointed long-time friend and advisor, Richard Sharp, as Chairman of the BBC – an appointment that is widely regarded as political in nature. Subsequently, it has come to light that Mr. Sharp failed to declare at the time of his appointment that only a few weeks prior he acted as an intermediary that saw Boris Johnson in receipt of an £800,000 loan. At a cross-party committee of MPs, Sharp was told to “consider the impact his omissions will have” on public trust in the BBC. 

This is coupled with the appointment of Sir Robbie Gibb to the board of the BBC in April 2021. Gibb is a well-known Tory activist, having previously served as a Director of Communications under Theresa May during her time in 10 Downing Street. Former BBC Newsnight journalist, Emily Matlis, has criticised the current board of the BBC and role of Gibb within the organisation by stating, “Put this in the context of the BBC Board, where another active agent of the Conservative party – former Downing Street spin doctor, and former adviser to BBC rival GB News – now sits, acting as the arbiter of BBC impartiality.” 

Matlis described this as: “Tory cronyism at the heart of the BBC.”

The appointments of Sharp and Gibb to senior roles within the BBC strike right at the heart of the debate around BBC impartiality. The BBC cannot expect to be perceived as impartial when it is being run by individuals with clear direct links to a political party, nevermind the current Conservative government of the day. The continuance of such individuals in high ranking positions will only cause further debate and doubt over impartiality within the BBC. Would BBC executives have taken the same course of action if Lineker was tweeting his support of the UK Government’s illegal migration bill?

As for Lineker, he will return to his presenting duties this weekend to host live FA Cup action. His own position is stronger and BBC management’s weakened as they plan to launch an independent review of the organisation’s social media guidelines. Initial speculation has centred around less stringent rules for freelancers.

At Fuzion, we work with businesses and organisations on creating bespoke social media strategies where we detail how both the organisation and its employees should act on social media. This allows organisations to provide clear and concise advice to staff how they should behave when representing their employer online, especially on platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter. Finding a balance between the employer and employee is crucial.

And in the event that does not work and the proverbial s*** hits the fan our Crisis Communications team can help!


Dylan Morley is a PR account executive with Fuzion Communications, a full service Marketing, PR and Graphic Design agency who operate from offices in Dublin and Cork

Time to change the channel!

October 30, 2013

Hector - 2FM

I am an ‘RTE Morning Ireland girl- always have been!

As a PR consultant, and a former political adviser, I have been addicted to the news for a long time. But lately I’ve been finding myself sneakily switching over to Hector on 2fm between news bulletins.

It’s not that I’m not interested in the news, but Hector (somewhat indulgently) calls his listeners ‘soldiers of the dawn’. I’m not sure why this is so appealing, but sometimes when I am in traffic at 7.45am, I feel like a soldier of the dawn!

Isn’t it enough just to be up, to be on my way to work? Do I have to listen to a full 40 minutes of bad news stories before I get there as well?

Hector says things like ‘keep her lit’ and ‘keep it country’, and he plays very upbeat, happy tunes. It’s nice!

Recently I heard Kate Adie, veteran BBC news correspondent, tell a radio presenter, that people don’t sit down at 9pm anymore, to watch ‘the news’, as we once knew it.

We now have news on tap, – iphones, car radios, twitter, facebook- if something happens, you will hear about it -so it’s no longer surprising at 9pm. Whether you are interested or not, you can’t escape it. If something is happening, you will hear about it.

As Kate Adie pointed out, news has a function, whether you care about it or not, it acts as a warning, a heads up. It reminds you to look after your life. That’s a good thing.

Trouble is, sometimes you need to escape it.

A constant diet of personal insolvency, Anglo tapes, dissolving the Seanad, shootings, (and that’s before you’ve had a coffee) can’t be good for you – It is ok to tune out from time to time, to take a break from your life, to unplug from it all.

Sometimes you just need to listen to a song, simple as that.

An MD of a large organisation in the financial services sector recently told me he listens to LyricFm on the way to work. He says it’s good for the soul, and besides, he has the rest of the day to hear all the bad news.

So by all means, listen to the news, get the headlines, as Kate Adie says, take the heads up, and look after your life. But there’s no harm in changing the channel every once in a while.

..You might actually arrive to work in a good mood!

Jill Collins - Fuzion PRJill Collins is a PR Consultant  and Media Training expert with Fuzion PR who have offices in Cork and Dublin

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