The BBC is facing a boycott from a group of its sporting presenters, who have disagreed with the company’s attempt to penalise Match of the Day host, Gary Lineker, after he tweeted his criticism of the UK government’s new asylum policy. The company has asked Lineker to step back from his presenting duties. The new policy would bar undocumented migrants from entering the country on small vessels, which has led to criticism from the United Nations who referred to it as an “asylum ban”.
The criticism of the BBC is not confined to Lineker’s colleagues. Labour leader, Keir Starmer, has accused the BBC of caving into demands from Conservative Party MPs. The broadcaster faced further accusations of hypocrisy, as it has been revealed that its chair, Richard Sharp, facilitated an £800,000 loan to former Prime Minister, Boris Johnson. In addition, Robbie Gibb, communications officer for former PM Theresa May, sits on the BBC’s non-executive board, while current Director General, Tim Davie, has previously stood as a Conservative councillor.
The BBC has attributed Lineker’s recent social media comments to violating impartiality standards – a charge that many of its presenters strongly disagree with. The controversy has caused widespread disruption to the broadcaster’s schedule, as a result of a series of boycotts initiated by a group of Lineker’s colleagues.
BBC Director General, Tim Davie, is reportedly hopeful of “resolving the situation” and sees success as “getting Gary back on air”. The matter is for the broadcaster and presenter to resolve according to the Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak. Angry exchanges on social media, however, highlight the polarising nature of the issue.