BBC Sport programmes are expected to return back to normal this week, as Gary Lineker returns to work after his suspension.
Presenters, pundits and commentators refused to go on-air in support of Lineker, as tensions at the broadcaster over political interference bubble over.
Lineker will once again front the BBC’s coverage of the FA Cup Quarter Finals this week, after he was dropped from Saturday’s Match of the Day over a tweet he wrote last week.
BBC bosses say they will conduct an independent review of its social media guidance for staff and freelance staff.
The BBC has been accused of applying different rules to different staff with regards to comments made on and off social media.
Statements from the BBC and Gary Lineker:
Statement from Director-General of the BBC, Tim Davie:
“Everyone recognises this has been a difficult period for staff, contributors, presenters and, most importantly, our audiences. I apologise for this. The potential confusion caused by the grey areas of the BBC’s social media guidance that was introduced in 2020 is recognised. I want to get matters resolved and our sport content back on air.
“Impartiality is important to the BBC. It is also important to the public. The BBC has a commitment to impartiality in its Charter and a commitment to freedom of expression. That is a difficult balancing act to get right where people are subject to different contracts and on air positions, and with different audience and social media profiles. The BBC’s social media guidance is designed to help manage these sometimes difficult challenges and I am aware there is a need to ensure that the guidance is up to this task. It should be clear, proportionate, and appropriate.
“Accordingly, we are announcing a review led by an independent expert – reporting to the BBC – on its existing social media guidance, with a particular focus on how it applies to freelancers outside news and current affairs. The BBC and myself are aware that Gary is in favour of such a review.
“Shortly, the BBC will announce who will conduct that review. Whilst this work is undertaken, the BBC’s current social media guidance remains in place.
“Gary is a valued part of the BBC and I know how much the BBC means to Gary, and I look forward to him presenting our coverage this coming weekend.”
Statement from Gary Lineker:
“I am glad that we have found a way forward. I support this review and look forward to getting back on air.”
On Saturday, Match of the Day was cut to 20 minutes and Sunday’s MOTD2 was just 14 minutes long. The BBC had been contractually obligated to show Premier League highlights, even if it meant broadcasting it without presenters or commentators.