LONDON – Britain’s BBC on Friday named former television executive John Hardie to review its social media guidance for freelancers, after its existing policies came under fire following a row over impartiality with its highest paid presenter Gary Lineker.
In early March, Mr Lineker, in a Twitter post, described the British government’s controversial illegal migration Bill as an “immeasurably cruel policy directed at the most vulnerable people in language that is not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 30s”.
Mr Lineker, a former star soccer player and presenter on the Match Of The Day football show. was suspended by the BBC and then reinstated, raising questions about presenters’ acceptable use of social media.
The BBC then announced a review into how sports and other non-news presenters use social media to express their personal opinions.
The review will start immediately, the broadcaster said on Friday, adding that it is expected to be completed by summer, with any changes to the BBC’s social media guidance to be published after that.
Mr Hardie, a former CEO and editor-in-chief of ITN and an executive vice-president at Walt Disney, has not worked for the BBC, the news company said in a statement.
The review will consider how the BBC applies its guidance, considering its charter commitments to both impartiality and freedom of expression.
Future guidance must be “easy to understand, practical and deliverable”, the BBC said.
BBC director-general Tim Davie said the BBC “has important commitments to both impartiality and to freedom of expression”.
“We also have a commitment to those working with us, and for us, to be clear in what we expect from them,” he said. “The social media guidance is crucial to achieving this, particularly in a fast-paced, ever- changing world of digital media.”
Mr Hardie said: “I am very pleased to have been asked to conduct this review. I approach the task with no preconceptions and an open mind. I look forward to hearing from a wide range of voices, from both inside and outside the BBC, as the work progresses.” REUTERS