BBC crackdown on presenters tweeting after Gary Lineker row over migrants

The BBC is considering tightening up on how its presenters use social media after a row broke out over comments Match of the Day star Gary Lineker made about immigration.

An independent review has suggested a “three-tier” system for “crown jewel” presenters governing the way in which they use sites such as Twitter/X, as it aims to avoid a similar row in the future. According to The Times, sources question whether the former England international would accept the guidelines, having insisted he followed Beeb rules.

Lineker was suspended in March for tweets that compared government language on illegal immigration to the discourse used in 1930s Germany. The decision to remove him from the show sparked a mass walkout by BBC Sport staff, resulting in a stripped back highlights reel being aired with no replacement forthcoming.

It prompted BBC director-general Tim Davie to appoint former ITN chief executive John Hardie to run a review of how the BBC’s social media guidance applied to freelance presenters.

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After speaking to staff and presenters – including Lineker – Hardie is understood to have reached a conclusion on social media. Now the BBC is considering how to respond to his ideas.

It is thought Hardie has proposed that senior leaders and staff in the “news and factual division” continue to be governed by heavy impartiality restrictions that mean that cannot post anything on soical media that would not be said on air. Presenters working on non-news programming will have less strict guidelines.

Sources however say there will now be an additional tier for the “crown jewels” presenters. These are programmes strongly linked to the BBC brand.

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It is designed to clear up any confusion about the current guidelines. As it stands, it requires people who have an additional responsibility to the BBC because of their own status to avoid taking sides of political issues.

It says they should treat matters of public policy with “caution”. A soutce said: “You will have to be more careful if you are an individual working on a show that is synonymous with the BBC brand, rather than if you just pop up once a year.”

Lineker insisted that, as a freelance sports presenter, he was entitled to express his own opinion. His agent also indicated he had a special agreement with the BBC to discuss climate change and immigration.

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