The BBC, British public television, has approved a series of new rules on the use of social networks by its hosts. The changes to the rules came after the BBC was heavily criticized in March for suspending Gary Lineker, a popular former footballer and sports commentator, for a few days after he criticized a controversial immigration law introduced by the British government at the time on Twitter. . The BBC had justified that decision by saying that the views expressed by Lineker breached the BBC’s rules on the use of social networks.
The new rules mainly concern leading commentators on programs that do not deal with news and current affairs, who will be able to express personal opinions on current discussion topics and political decisions when using their accounts, but without taking sides with anyone. The rules say they will have to respect “the impartiality of the BBC, due to their prominence within” the broadcaster. Among the programs cited for these rules is also Match of the Day, the program co-hosted by Lineker and from which he had been suspended and then reinstated. Lineker he said that the new rules seemed to him “all very sensible”.
During the periods in which the program is broadcast, and in a period which also includes the two weeks before and after the broadcast, the hosts of these programs will not be able to attack or support a political party on social networks. They will also not be able to criticize the character of an individual politician or any issue at the center of political debates during election periods, nor have roles in campaign groups. However, they are interpretable rules, and it has already been pointed out by some commentators that it may be difficult to establish the boundary between a political opinion and taking a position.