The BBC’s new director general has issued a warning to staff about their use of social media, claiming that expressing their views online could damage the broadcaster’s reputation for impartiality.
Tim Davie said renewing the BBC’s commitment to impartiality is the “first priority” amid allegations of bias from figures across the political spectrum.
Addressing the staff at the BBC’s Cardiff office, Davie said, “If you want to be a wayward columnist or a partisan social media campaigner, that’s a good choice, but you shouldn’t work at the BBC.
“Our research shows that too many people see that we are shaped by a particular perspective,” he added.
Davie said new rules will be put in place regarding employee use of social media, while referring to a crackdown on the company’s stars who make money from private companies.
He continued: “To be clear, this is not about letting go of democratic values, such as standing up for fair debate or aversion to racism. But the point is to be free from political bias, guided by the pursuit of truth, not by any particular agenda. “
Several high-profile BBC employees have been accused of bias.
Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis was criticized for her opening monologue about the way the government handled Dominic Cummings’ shutdown.
And BBC Breakfast presenter Naga Munchetty was reprimanded last year after commenting on comments made by US President Donald Trump. The then chief Lord Tony Hall later reversed the decision.
Davie also addressed doubts about the future viability of the license fee funding model. He said he was not in favor of Netflix-style subscription fees that would make the BBC “just another media company serving a specific group.”
He said: “The evidence is unequivocal: the future of a universal BBC can no longer be taken for granted. We do not have an inalienable right to exist. “
Elsewhere, Davie, the 17th Director General, suggested that the amount and variety of content produced by the broadcaster could be reduced.
“The truth is, we’ve tried to face increasing competition by making more and spreading ourselves too thinly. Of course, as the BBC, we have to offer a wide choice, and we should not back down to a limited offering. But we’ve been too slow to stop things that aren’t working, ” he said.
Davie claimed the BBC will “look in all areas” and “identify how we can make more impact by earning less.”
He said the “simple” move was not about “cuts to save money.”
The new Director General also said there was “too much bureaucracy”, adding, “I want all parts of the BBC not to complain about bureaucracy, but to dismantle it.”