The BBC’s new director general Tim Davie has made it clear that he will have little or no patience for stars and staff who break the UK broadcaster’s strict impartiality protocols on social media.
Davie referenced tough new social media rules for employees in his maiden speech earlier this month and Tuesday offered more details on how he intends to enforce the guidelines, which will be unveiled in the coming weeks.
Giving evidence to British Parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, the former BBC Studios CEO said the BBC will fire staff or strip them of their social accounts depending on the severity of the transgression.
“I am prepared to take the appropriate disciplinary action, all the way to termination,” Davie told MPs. “Enforcement actions will be very clear, we will be able to take disciplinary action, we’ll be able to take people off Twitter. I know people want to see hard action on this.”
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Asked how the BBC will part individuals with their Twitter or Facebook accounts, Davie said they will be given a choice between social media suspension or their future employment at the corporation.
He said this will be reserved for the most serious cases. “I’m sure over your career and my career, sometimes we have not acted perfectly. So there will be a range of enforcements. Sometimes someone just needs a talking to. Other times there will be more serious matters,” he said.
The hardline comes as the new BBC director general intends to “renew our vows on impartiality” following a bruising few years for the broadcaster in which it has been accused of bias on issues including Brexit.
Some of its stars, such as its highest-paid presenter Gary Lineker, have expressed their political leanings on Twitter as they have not been subject to the same impartiality rules as news employees. That will change under the new code of conduct.
“Social media guidelines will make clear where the lines are. If someone is a face of the BBC, I think entering into party politics seems to me not the right place to be,” Davie clarified.
He added: “The bar will be higher for news and current affairs, but there will also be a bar for those people working as BBC talent across the organization, across genres.”
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