‘Don’t endorse, attack a political party’: BBC’s rules for flagship presenters after Gary Lineker row

The social media rules apply to hosts of Match of the Day, The Apprentice, Top Gear, and major sporting events, among others.

WrittenBy:NL Team
Gary Lineker is a former English soccer star.

High-profile presenters on the BBC can “express views” on issues but “stop short of political campaigning”.

These are the British broadcaster’s new social media rules for presenters of flagship programmes “outside news and current affairs”. BBC said they have a “particular responsibility to respect the BBC’s impartiality, because of their profile on the BBC”.

A BBC report said: “The new guidance recognises the importance of freedom of expression, but says that while a programme is on air, and for a two-week window before and after the series, presenters on flagship shows must not endorse or attack a political party.”

These flagship shows include major sporting events, Match of the Day, The Apprentice, Antiques Roadshow, Top Gear, Masterchef and Strictly Come Dancing. A breach of the new guidelines could result in “disciplinary action for employees, including possible termination of employment”.

The rules were drawn up after the Gary Lineker row earlier this year. Lineker, a former English footballer, was suspended as host of Match of the Day after he criticised the British government’s immigration policy. Lineker had said British home secretary Suella Braverman was using language similar to Nazi Germany to support plans to stop asylum seekers.

The BBC suspended him. Other commentators, coaches and co-hosts boycotted the show in solidarity with Lineker.

Lineker tweeted yesterday that the new rules are “all very sensible”.

According to The Guardian, the rules also say that flagship presenters are banned from “criticising the character of individual politicians in the UK, commenting on any issue that is a matter of political debate during an election period, and taking up an official role assisting or fundraising for campaigning groups”.

For more context on the Lineker controversy – and how our very own Anurag Thakur waded in – watch this explainer on Newslaundry.

Also see
article imageThe BBC-Lineker row: Can journalists be ‘impartial’ about human rights?

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