New director-general Tim Davie is prepared to sack presenters and ‘take people off Twitter’ if staff fail to follow new tough rules on the use of social media
The BBC today announces tough rules on staff use of social media – clamping down on tweets and lucrative outside work – under the new director-general’s impartiality crackdown.
It is expected to include more stringent measures for those working in news and current affairs, as well as harsh penalties for those who break the rules.
New guidelines will also be released around moonlighting for private companies. It comes after Tim Davie, who took the helm last month, pledged to clamp down after a series of impartiality rows.
The 53-year-old has said the rules would be enforced, adding that he is prepared to sack presenters and ‘take people off Twitter’. A list of ‘dos and don’ts’ for staff posting online will be enforced with disciplinary action applied on a case-by-case basis.
Those working within news and current affairs will be expected to abide by even stricter measures. A BBC source said: ‘This isn’t about blocking people from posting or using social media, it’s about dealing with the realities of modern, polarised society.’
The Corporation is also planning to force news readers and correspondents to go through a clearance process before they take on lucrative speaking events. A record of the payments is expected to be published for the first time.
It comes after a review by the BBC’s former director of global news Richard Sambrook - dubbed the ‘Twitter spy in chief’ by colleagues - on how staff can maintain impartiality online.
...But Gary still won't play ball
Gary Lineker last night vowed to continue using his ‘large platform’ on social media to share his views.
The former England striker said he welcomes the debate that comes with discussing his opinions – and hopes he can influence ‘one or two’ people.
Lineker, pictured, told the Between the Lines podcast: ‘I don’t think my views are any more important than anyone else’s.
'But I have a large platform so I try and use it wisely and use it for good.
‘People will disagree with me and that’s fine – I don’t mind debate... I don’t understand abuse.
‘I will share my views and obviously, I believe in what I say and I will stand up for it.’
The new guidance sets out that the reputation for impartiality is ‘an obligation’ and ‘should never been seen as a restriction, or as an inconvenience or anachronism.’
It makes clear that anyone working for the BBC is a ‘representative of the organisation, both offline and also when online, including on social media’.
And that the ‘same standards apply to the behaviour and conduct of staff in both circumstances’.
It is also planning to force news readers and correspondents to go through a clearance process before they take on lucrative speaking events for private firms to avoid a ‘conflict of interests’.
Top presenters including newsreader Huw Edwards, BBC Breakfast’s Naga Munchetty and the north America editor, Jon Sopel, have previously come under fire for topping up their large salaries with cooperate work.
The overhaul comes after a number of impartiality rows including Emily Maitlis’ Newsnight monologue in May about the Dominic Cummings lockdown furore.
She said the Prime Minister’s chief adviser broke the rules and ‘the country can see that’.
During the last election campaign, newsreader Huw Edwards liked a tweet of a video which said ‘Vote Labour for the National Health Service’. Mr Edwards later claimed that he had not seen the ‘Vote Labour’ message at the end of the clip.
Political editor Laura Kuenssberg was also criticised after she wrongly claimed on Twitter that a Labour activist punched a Tory adviser. She later apologised.