Monday, March 20, 2023

BBC settles with Gary Lineker after Twitter row – Usky News

LONDON: Gary Lineker will return as presenter of the flagship BBC Football show Match of the Day, the broadcaster said on Monday, ended a crisis sparked by his criticism of the UK government’s new asylum policy.
The former England footballer was suspended on Friday after using Twitter Last week the language used to launch the new policy was compared to the rhetoric of Nazi-era Germany.
His comments and removal sparked days of frenzied media coverage, which escalated on Friday after he refused to work over the weekend in support of fellow presenters, pundits and commentators.
This threw the publicly funded broadcaster’s sports coverage into disarray, limiting its highlights packages to just 20 minutes without any commentary or analysis.
But on Monday both sides said they had reached an agreement that would see Lineker back on screen and begin an internal review into the corporation’s social media guidelines.
BBC Director General Tim Davey said, “Gary is an important part of the BBC and I know how much the BBC means to Gary, and I look forward to presenting our coverage this coming weekend.”
In a joint statement, Lineker, 62, said: “I’m pleased we’ve found a way forward. I support this review and look forward to getting back on air.”
He separately tweeted that the past few days, during which he had been mobbed outside his London home by reporters, photographers and camera crews, had been “surreal”.
But in a final shot, he said: “Although the past few days have been difficult, it cannot be compared to seeking refuge in a country far from persecution or war at home.”
Davey apologized for the service disruption, saying he recognized “potential confusion caused by gray areas of the BBC’s social media guidance”.
He added, “Fairness is important to the BBC. It’s a difficult balance to strike right where people are on different contracts and on air positions, and with different audiences and social media profiles.”
He said the independent review will look at how the guidance applies to employees and freelancers like Lineker.
Former Leicester, Everton, Tottenham and Barcelona striker Lineker, who has hosted refugees at his home, has at times been an outspoken figure against government policy, particularly on immigration.
His comments followed plans to tighten laws governing asylum seekers, including turning those coming to the UK from northern France across the Channel in small boats.
The proposals were widely condemned by rights groups and the UN refugee agency, whose high commissioner Filippo Grandi on Monday sub-tweeted the UK government in response to Sunday’s Oscars.
“Big talent in small boats,” he wrote for the Best Supporting Actor award Ke Hui QuanJo fled Vietnam for a refugee camp in Hong Kong before moving to the United States.
Lineker’s critics said he should stay out of politics, given his high-profile sports presenting position and Davey’s drive for BBC impartiality.
The BBC has faced repeated criticism from politicians of all stripes in recent years for alleged bias in news reporting, particularly on Britain’s divisive departure from the European Union.
But Lineker has argued that as a freelancer not working in the news, he is not bound by the same social media rules, while his supporters point to other potential conflicts of interest at the BBC.
In particular they have highlighted the role of BBC chairman Richard Sharpe, a benefactor of the ruling Conservative Party who facilitated loans to former prime minister Boris Johnson.
They also questioned Davey’s own past ties to the Tory party and the presence on the BBC board of Robbie Gibb, the former Downing Street communications director in Theresa May’s government.


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