The answer, probably, goes not to the impartiality of the BBC but its independence. Politicians are obviously sensitive to public opinion and to the expression of views by those who might form it. Governments have a number of powerful instruments in relation to the BBC, including appointments and ultimately its funding. This is the reverse of the power relationship between politicians and newspapers. The logical explanation of the social media policy is to protect the BBC from the fallout that might follow if a prominent BBC person criticises politicians who the BBC has to regard as ‘stakeholders.
Writing in the New Law Journal, Senior Partner John Gould discusses the concepts of due impartiality and independence. He argues that the crux of the issue in the Lineker case is not impartiality or independence, but rather how the BBC responds to political pressure. The full piece is available to read by subscription to the New Law Journal.
John Gould is Senior Partner of Russell-Cooke. His area of particular expertise is regulation and public law. He specialises in the analysis and solution of complex regulatory problems, advising regulators, government departments, law enforcement agencies, charities and statutory and professional bodies.