BBC clamps down on staff social media & paid speeches

1 month ago 47
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LONDON: The BBC on Thursday unveiled new impartiality guidelines after accusations that journalists and other staff have undermined its credibility via their social media accounts or by accepting lucrative offers to give outside speeches.
Staff, contractors and freelancers could face dismissal for "serious" breaches of the guidelines, according to the broadcaster, which has been coming under pressure from the ruling Conservatives over its funding and the politics of some personnel.
"Impartiality is the foundation on which we deliver insightful, exciting and ground-breaking stories," new director-general Tim Davie said in an email to staff.
"These guidelines are intended to help us continue to deliver this, and build audience trust," said Davie, a former PepsiCo executive and Conservative party member who took over the BBC on September 1.
One of the stars potentially in Davie's sights is former England footballer Gary Lineker, the publicly funded corporation's best paid presenter, who is an outspoken voice on Twitter.
Lineker and some BBC staff have backed a campaign by Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford, seeking to force the government to provide free school meals for poorer children outside term time during the coronavirus pandemic.
The BBC has also been on the defensive for failing to police outside activities by presenters. North America editor Jon Sopel was criticised last year for giving a paid speech to tobacco giant Philip Morris International in Miami.
Davie said that under the new guidelines, staff will now have to declare "certain types of work undertaken outside of the BBC", akin to declarations required for members of parliament.
The director-general is also reportedly planning to axe some "left-leaning" comedy shows that the Conservatives accuse of bias on issues such as Brexit.

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