Jim Waterson, in the Guardian, reports on new social media bans on controversial gather signs by BBC’s Director General Tim Davie. October 2020.
BBC journalists have been told that new rules on impartiality mean they may no longer be able to go on LGBT pride marches, even in a personal capacity, in case their presence is taken as a sign of political bias.
The BBC’s director general, Tim Davie, introduced the rules on Thursday. They are designed to shore up the public perception of BBC impartiality, following long-running criticism pushed by rightwing media outlets about alleged biases of corporation staff.
In addition to strict new social media guidelines, Davie introduced a ban on the broadcaster’s news reporters taking part in “public demonstrations or gatherings about controversial issues” even when not marching under an identifiable BBC banner.
The guidelines state that “judgment is required as to what issues are ‘controversial’ with regard to marches or demonstrations, though it should be assumed that most marches are contentious to some degree or other”.
Journalists in BBC newsrooms across the UK told the Guardian that managers had informed them that while pride marches were not specifically mentioned by the guidelines, journalists would be stopped from attending due to the new rules.BBC sources did not dispute this, but said interpretation of the rules would at the discretion of local managers. They emphasised that there was no explicit ban on pride marches in the rules. BBC employees not working in the news or current affairs divisions would still be able to take part in public marches and protests.