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Resolution reached in BBC/Lineker dispute

March 13, 2023

By Colin Mann

Statements have been issued by Tim Davie, Director-General of the BBC and Gary Lineker confirm that Lineker will return to sports presentation this coming weekend following the BBC announcing that he would “step back” from presenting Match of the Day until there was an “agreed and clear position on his use of social media”.

There was disruption across BBC Sport’s output after presenters, pundits and commentators backed Lineker. Football Focus, Final Score and football coverage on radio station 5 Live was pulled from the air, while BBC One’s Match of the Day on Saturday was only 20 minutes long with no commentary or punditry

“Everyone recognises this has been a difficult period for staff, contributors, presenters and, most importantly, our audiences,” said Davie. “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,” said Davie.

Lineker said: “I am glad that we have found a way forward. I support this review and look forward to getting back on air.”

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