‘Poll tax on propaganda’: Gary Lineker fiasco puts public support for BBC license fee at risk, minister warns
The Gary Lineker fiasco risks damaging public support for the BBC’s license fee, a minister has suggested.
The presenter will return to Match of the Day this weekend despite not apologizing for comparing the government’s immigration crackdown to Nazi Germany.
The Minister of Culture, Julia López, said yesterday that “trust and impartiality” were vital to the “social contract” that supports the payment of the license. Ms López also admitted that the license fee was losing support among the public, amid furious calls from MPs to remove the ‘propaganda poll tax’.
Backbenchers lined up yesterday to criticize the corporation for ‘giving in’ to Lineker by allowing him to return to MOTD.
Unfazed by the events of the past week, Lineker changed the image on his Twitter profile last night to a photoshopped image of himself in front of a George Orwell quote about free speech that can be found on a wall outside the New BBC Broadcasting House in central London
The Gary Lineker fiasco risks damaging public support for the BBC’s license fee, a minister has suggested
The Minister of Culture, Julia López (in the photo), said yesterday that “trust and impartiality” were vital to the “social contract” that supports the payment of the license. Ms López also admitted that the license fee was losing support among the public, amid angry calls from parliamentarians to remove the “poll tax on propaganda.”
The presenter is pictured smiling at the words: ‘If freedom means anything, it means the right to tell people what they don’t want to hear.’
Managing Director Tim Davie and Head of Content Charlotte Moore traveled to Salford yesterday to “reflect on the events of the last few days” with the sports staff. A source there said people were “furious” about what happened, amid claims that Mr Davie had “just introduced himself” to staff when he spoke to them.
The BBC continued to come under high-profile attacks from both sides of the debate last night. Ian Wright, who boycotted last Saturday’s MOTD in “solidarity with Lineker”, said the corporation had made a “hot mess from above” and “surely heads have to roll”.
But former BBC chief political correspondent John Sergeant said the corporation could not back down from “the commitment to political impartiality” and that if “key independent presenters” cannot “play by the rules, their contracts should end.”
A debate on the dispute was held in Parliament yesterday after Labor put an urgent question in the House of Commons.
DUP MP Sammy Wilson (East Antrim) attacked the way Lineker was handled by the BBC over his comments on Twitter about the government’s immigration policy.
Wilson told the House of Commons: “The BBC has once again shown that it is impossible, due to the inherent bias in it, to be impartial and it is now time that people are no longer forced to fund the BBC through of the license fee, especially when every week 1,000 people are brought to court by the BBC, 70 per cent of them women, for refusing to pay this poll tax on propaganda.’
Ms. Lopez said that Mr. Wilson was “right to stress the importance of fairness in the trust that license payers have in the organization and the importance in relation to the future of the license fee.”
Former Tory minister Damian Green told the House of Commons that the Lineker case had been “shamefully terrible for the BBC”.
The presenter will return to the Match of the Day this weekend despite not apologizing for comparing the government’s immigration repression to Nazi Germany
He added: “Cleaners whose reputations and bank balances are enhanced by their regular appearances on BBC shows have a reciprocal responsibility to the BBC, which may include some self-control in what they say and do in public.”
The debate sparked further anger after Labor Party culture spokeswoman Lucy Powell said Lineker had been taken off the air for tweeting something that “the government doesn’t like” sounds like “Putin’s Russia”.
Former Conservative minister Andrew Percy said: “I hope the shadow secretary of state will reflect on her comparison of this government to the Putin regime which, of course, is engaged in war crimes and the murder of men, women and children in Ukraine”. That was below her.