Gary Lineker is to return to the BBC, as director-general Tim Davie issued an apology following the disruption of the weekend’s sport coverage.
Last week, a row over impartiality ensued after Lineker was forced to step away from Saturday’s BBC football highlights programme Match of the Day.
This happened after Lineker had taken to Twitter to compare the illegal immigration bill to Germany’s political regime of the 1930s.
Following Lineker’s removal off air, BBC presenters and pundits stood side by side in support of the Match of the Day host, with the likes of Ian Wright and Alan Shearer confirming that they would not appear on Saturday’s show.
Saturday’s edition of Match of the Day saw all six Premier League matches introduced with no theme music, commentary, or analysis.
“I apologise for this”
Since then, the BBC have confirmed that Lineker will return this weekend, which will see him host the corporation’s live coverage of the FA Cup tie between Manchester City and Burnley, and return to host Match of the Day.
“Everyone recognises this has been a difficult period for staff, contributors, presenters and, most importantly, our audiences. I apologise for this”, director-general Ian Davie said in a statement.
“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”.
“clear, proportionate, and appropriate”
Davie also added that an independent review of impartiality will also take place.
The statement continued, “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”.
They also added, “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”.
“a surreal few days”
Gary Lineker also took to Twitter to express his delight that a resolution has been achieved. He also thanked all BBC employees for their support.
“After a surreal few days, I’m delighted that we have navigated a way through this. I want to thank you all for the incredible support, particularly my colleagues at BBC Sport, for the remarkable show of solidarity”, he said.
After a surreal few days, I’m delighted that we have navigated a way through this. I want to thank you all for the incredible support, particularly my colleagues at BBC Sport, for the remarkable show of solidarity. Football is a team game but their backing was overwhelming. 1/4
— Gary Lineker 💙💛 (@GaryLineker) March 13, 2023
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