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After Gary Lineker controversy BBC reviews freelance social media guidance


The BBC has appointed John Hardie, the former Editor-in-Chief of ITN, to review how its social media guidance applies to freelancers.

It comes in the wake of the controversy surrounding Gary Lineker’s tweets about the government’s asylum policy, which led to a weekend of sport chaos.

The review will start immediately and is expected to be complete by the summer, with any changes to its social media guidance then published.

Hardie is a former CEO and Editor-in-Chief at ITN and an Executive VP at Walt Disney, he was also Chair of the Royal Television Society and Marketing and Commercial Director of ITV Network.

He hasn’t ever worked for the BBC.

“I am very pleased to have been asked to conduct this review. I approach the task with no preconceptions and an open mind,” he stated.

“I look forward to hearing from a wide range of voices, from both inside and outside the BBC, as the work progresses.”

He will look at the BBC’s guidance covering“individual use of social media”, which was first published in October 2020 This will be focused on “on-air freelancers outside of News, Current Affairs and Factual journalism.”

The review will consider how the BBC applies its guidance, considering its commitments “to both impartiality and freedom of expression.”

Some of the questions he will be looking at are:

  • Which freelancers are covered by the guidance?
  • What impartiality requirements should apply to freelancers, if any? If so, how should they be defined?
  • Are all freelancers covered by the same requirements?

“The BBC has important commitments to both impartiality and to freedom of expression,” added BBC Director-General Tim Davie.

“We also have a commitment to those working with us, and for us, to be clear in what we expect from them. The social media guidance is crucial to achieving this, particularly in a fast-paced, ever- changing world of digital media.

“This review will ensure this guidance is clear, proportionate and appropriate – now and in the future.”

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