Former BBC executive Richard Sambrook outlined a new set of rules for BBC staff in a bid to “ensure the highest possible standards of impartiality” on social media. Journalists who do not abide by the new guidelines face “possible termination of employment in serious circumstances”.
James Wong, who regularly contributes to Countryfile and Gardener’s Question Time, tweeted: “I am making a new series for BBC World News, so I guess these directives apply to me?
“To confirm, if they do, I won’t be following them.
“‘Virtue signalling’ isn’t an objective concept. It’s a weird alt-right insult. Pandering to it deserves no place in public broadcasting.”
BBC News journalist Brian Whelan replied to Wong with: “Hi James. For balance, can you please now also tweet the opposite of what you believe?”
Radio 5 Live presenter Nihal Arthanayake tweeted: “Looks like I won’t be calling racists rude words anymore.“
Former BBC executive and director of communications for No 10 Sir Robbie Gibb described the guidelines as the start of a long process.
He criticised the move, saying the broadcaster had become too left-wing politically and must change in order to justify its publicly-funded status.
Commenting on the new social media rules, he said: “New BBC staff social media guidelines published today may be the start of reform but I doubt it will end there and nor should it.
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“I wonder how many copies of the paper are sold outside of London?
“And the BBC is London-centric. This is endemic Left-wing bias.”
The figures showed BBC offices around the UK bought 71,916 Guardian newspapers in total during 2019.
A spokesman for The Freedom Association lobby group branded the spending as “astonishing”.
The association, which campaigns against the BBC licence fee, said: “It does nothing to stop the criticism that they follow a Left-wing agenda and are intent on propping up friends in the Left-wing media.”