BBC set to crack down on TV stars' tweets following Gary Lineker row

Gary Lineker

Gary Lineker's tweets about immigration caused the BBC to suspended him in March

Holly Bishop

By Holly Bishop

Published: 21/08/2023

- 13:27

Presenters on the BBC's most popular 'crown jewel' shows are set to face harsher restrictions

The BBC is planning to crack down on how its presenters use social media, following on from an explosive row over Gary Lineker’s tweets about refugees.

An independent review has suggested a “three-tier” system for free-lance presenters who use social media platforms.

The system, proposed by Tim Davie, the director-general of the BBC, has been set up in order to avoid a repeat of the Lineker tweet debacle back in March.

The harshest tier of the system would affect senior staff in the news and factual division, who will be presided by heavy impartiality restrictions.


Tim Davie, the director-general of the BBC, has ordered the system to be set up in order to avoid a repeat of the Lineker tweet debacle


Following this tier, the next level would focus on presenters on “crown jewel” shows – programmes that are heavily linked to the BBC brand, like Match of the Day.

They would face rigid free-speech requirements, as they have additional responsibility to the BBC because of their presence on brand-essential shows, tying them to the broadcaster.

“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,” a source told The Times.

The final tier affects presenters on non-news shows, who can express their opinions more freely due to less-structured guidelines.

The system was proposed after a row broke out over Match of the Day star Gary Lineker’s comments about immigration on social media.

Lineker posted: “This is just an immeasurably cruel policy directed at the most vulnerable people, in language not dissimilar to that used by Germany in the 30s and I'm out of order?”

The BBC chose to suspend him over his comments which resulted in a mass walkout by BBC Sport staff.

Davie then appointed the former ITN chief executive John Hardie to review the current BBC free-speech guidance.

Gary Lineker

It is unsure how the presenter will react to the new system


His three-tier structure has been designed to clear up any confusion on presenting guidelines.

It is unsure if Lineker will agree to the proposed system after he previously said he believed he had followed the rules.

The Match of the Day presenter said in May: “I am the kind of person that if I am told to not do something it will drive me to do it even further.”

A BBC spokesman said: “We will not be commenting on speculation in relation to the review.”

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