Gary Lineker row ‘rooted in BBC’s terror of losing licence fee’

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Gary Lineker is ready to get back to work after his suspension from Match of the Day last weekend, following a row with the BBC. Former BBC presenter John Humphrys, 79, has revealed his stance on what the highly-publicised impartiality disagreement meant for the corporation.

He stated: “The failed attempt by the corporation to censor the Match of the Day presenter’s tweets was rooted in a terror of losing the licence fee.”

John went on to theorise that the disagreement could have been sparked by the government’s “pressure” on the BBC and its correct functioning.

The broadcaster correlated the pressure to the debate on whether all Brits should be required to pay the licence fee.

He said: “So, let’s be clear: the driver of this crisis is the continual pressure the BBC comes under to show the government of the day that it is getting its house in order.

“And Lineker has unwittingly highlighted the real danger the BBC faces: in a world of social media, it may become increasingly irrelevant, undercutting its aim of universality – of providing something for everyone – even as its audiences fray.

“And that means the pressure grows on the licence fee. It becomes an issue of genuine political debate, not just a stick with which to beat the BBC.

“Because if you’re not universal, what’s the point of making everyone pay?” John enquired in a new opinion piece for The Telegraph.

It comes just one week after Gary was taken off air after sharing a tweet comparing the language used to promote a new government asylum seeker policy with the rhetoric used in 1930s Germany.

The football pundit was later reinstated, as the BBC issued an apology and shared a plan to review its social media guidelines.

However, BBC employees have since told they are “leaving the organisation” in protest at a “complete lack of progression” while big stars like Gary Lineker can do “whatever they want.”

Gary is one of the highest-paid presenters at the BBC, with one insider saying: “We’re not paid mega bucks – far from it. They cut a lot of it to the bone. And yet they waste £1.3million on paying Gary Lineker.”

The TV presenter “will abide by the editorial guidelines” until a review of the BBC’s social media policy is complete, BBC director-general Tim Davie said.

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“Everyone recognises this has been a difficult period for staff, contributors, presenters and, most importantly, our audiences,” Tim added.

“I apologise for this. The potential confusion caused by the grey areas of the BBC’s social media guidance that was introduced in 2020 is recognised.

“I want to get matters resolved and our sports content back on air.”

Gary announced his MOTD return to his Twitter followers on Monday, writing: “After a surreal few days, I’m delighted that we have navigated a way through this.

“I want to thank you all for the incredible support, particularly my colleagues at BBC Sport, for the remarkable show of solidarity. Football is a team game but their backing was overwhelming.

“I have been presenting sport on the BBC for almost 3 decades and am immeasurably proud to work with the best and fairest broadcaster in the world. I cannot wait to get back in the MOTD chair on Saturday.

“A final thought: however difficult the last few days have been, it simply doesn’t compare to having to flee your home from persecution or war to seek refuge in a land far away. It’s heartwarming to have seen the empathy towards their plight from so many of you.

“We remain a country of predominantly tolerant, welcoming and generous people. Thank you.”

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