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BBC boss refuses to quit

BBC director-general Tim Davie has apologised to audiences for the disruption to the corporation’s sports programming schedule, but said he will not resign.

In an interview with BBC News, following Gary Lineker being asked to step back from hosting Match of the Day, the BBC boss admitted boycotts had made for a “difficult day.”

“As a keen sports fan I know to miss programming is a real blow and I’m sorry about that. We are working very hard to resolve this situation and make sure we get output on air,” Mr Davie said.

He added: “Everyone wants to calmly resolve the situation. Gary Lineker’s the best in the business – that’s not for debate.”

Director-general of the BBC Tim Davie said he wants to get Gary Lineker back on the air.

Speaking to BBC News in Washington DC, Mr Davie said it has been a “difficult day” and that they are working hard to get programming back on air.

He went on: “I don’t want to go into too much detail about exact discussion.

“I think that everyone wants to calmly resolve the situation. I would say Gary Lineker is a superb broadcaster. He’s the best in the business, that’s not for debate.”

Mr Davie added: “To be clear, success for me is – Gary gets back on air and together we are giving to the audiences that world class sports coverage which, as I say, I’m sorry we haven’t been able to deliver today.”

The prime minister has commented on the controversy surrounding the BBC’s decision to take Gary Lineker off air for the first time, saying it is “a matter for them, not the government”.

In a statement, Rishi Sunak said: “As prime minister, I have to do what I believe is right, respecting that not everyone will always agree. That is why I have been unequivocal in my approach to stopping the boats.

“Gary Lineker was a great footballer and is a talented presenter. I hope that the current situation between Gary Lineker and the BBC can be resolved in a timely manner, but it is rightly a matter for them, not the government.”

Mr Davie’s comments come as the BBC One schedule has been updated to show that Match Of The Day will now air for only 20 minutes. The football highlights programme, which usually runs for around one hour and 30 minutes, will now be broadcast from 10.20pm to 10.40pm.

It will also not include accompanying commentary or analysis, the BBC’s sport editor Dan Roan has said.

The Sports Journalists’ Association (SJA) has said it “fully supports” the freedom of speech of its members and colleagues within the industry following a boycott by BBC presenters and pundits in support of Gary Lineker.

In a statement on Twitter, they said: “The Sports Journalists’ Association of Great Britain fully supports its members and industry colleagues on freedom of speech.

“The SJA would like to express its solidarity on this matter and will continue to monitor developments on the BBC and Gary Lineker story.” Independent UK

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