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Twitter tags BBC as ‘government funded media’, British broadcaster objects

Elon Musk-owned Twitter has labelled the BBC as a “government funded media” on the microblogging site, leading to a sharp reaction from British public broadcaster which on Monday objected to the move.

The taxpayer-funded licence fee supported UK media corporation said it has contacted the social media giant over the designation on its @BBC account to resolve the issue “as soon as possible”.

“The BBC is, and always has been, independent. We are funded by the British public through the licence fee,” the BBC statement said.

An email exchange with Twitter chief Elon Musk suggests that he is considering providing a label that would link all media organisations to “exact funding sources”.

“We are aiming for maximum transparency and accuracy. Linking to ownership and source of funds probably makes sense,” Musk’s email to BBC reads.

“I do think media organisations should be self-aware and not falsely claim the complete absence of bias. All organisations have bias, some obviously much more than others. I should note that I follow BBC News on Twitter, because I think it is among the least biased,” it said.

The level of the GBP 159 annual licence fee, which is required by law to watch live TV broadcasts or live streaming in the UK, is set by the British government and paid for by individual UK households.

While the @BBC account, which has 2.2 million followers, has been given the label, much larger accounts associated with the BBC’s news and sport output are not currently being described in the same way, the BBC said.

According to the London-headquartered media organisation, the @BBC Twitter account primarily shares updates about BBC-produced TV programmes, radio shows, podcasts and other non-news material.

The BBC Charter states the corporation “must be independent”, particularly over “editorial and creative decisions, the times and manner in which its output and services are supplied, and in the management of its affairs”.

The BBC said it also receives more than GBP 90 million per year from the government to support the BBC World Service, which predominantly serves non-UK audiences.

Twitter’s new labelling of the BBC’s account comes after it did the same to US public broadcaster NPR’s handle. PTI

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