Football as we all know it is about to change. Gary Lineker has been taken off Match of the Day presenting duties and nothing else seems certain anymore.
The former Tottenham, Barcelona and England striker has long been an outspoken critic of the current Conservative government, often posting his views on Twitter. That has come into conflict with the BBC’s impartiality stance, driven by director general Tim Davie, who previously stood as a Tory councillor.
Tweets about the government’s new bill targeting migrants attempting to cross the Channel have now become the main story. There’s a lot going on there, so let’s break it all down.
The following select excerpts are from the BBC’s guidelines on impartiality, which can be found here.
“Impartiality does not necessarily require the range of perspectives or opinions to be covered in equal proportions either across our output as a whole, or within a single programme, webpage or item. Instead, we should seek to achieve ‘due weight’. For example, minority views should not necessarily be given similar prominence or weight to those with more support or to the prevailing consensus.
“There may be occasions when the omission of views or other material could jeopardise impartiality. There is no view on any subject which must be excluded as a matter of principle, but we should make reasoned decisions, applying consistent editorial judgement, about whether to include or omit perspectives.
News, Current Affairs and Factual Output
“Presenters, reporters and correspondents are the public face and voice of the BBC – they can have a significant impact on perceptions of whether due impartiality has been achieved. Our audiences should not be able to tell from BBC output the personal opinions of our journalists or news and current affairs presenters on matters of public policy, political or industrial controversy, or on ‘controversial subjects’ in any other area. They may provide professional judgements, rooted in evidence, but may not express personal views on such matters publicly, including in any BBC-branded output or on personal blogs and social media.
Contentious Views and Possible Offence
“Contributors expressing contentious views, either through an interview or other means, must be challenged while being given a fair chance to set out their response to questions. Minority views should be given appropriate space in our output.
“Consequently, we will sometimes include in our output…
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