The BBC, one of the world’s leading public broadcasters, has objected to a recent label applied to it on Twitter. The label in question describes the BBC as “government funded media,” a phrase that the corporation argues is misleading and inaccurate.
The dispute arose after a Twitter user posted a tweet critical of the BBC’s coverage of a political issue. In response, Twitter added a label to the user’s tweet that identified the BBC as “government funded media.” This label is part of Twitter’s effort to provide more context and transparency around the sources of information shared on its platform.
However, the BBC has taken issue with this label, arguing that it misrepresents the nature of the corporation’s funding. While the BBC does receive some funding from the UK government, this funding is not the sole or primary source of the corporation’s revenue. Instead, the BBC is primarily funded through a license fee paid by UK households that own a television set.
In a statement, the BBC said that the “government funded media” label is “inaccurate and misleading” and that it “undermines the BBC’s editorial independence.” The corporation went on to say that it is “concerned that the label may be applied more broadly to other public broadcasters around the world, which would be equally unfair and inaccurate.”
Elon Musk calls BBC ‘among least biased’ in Twitter row
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The BBC contacted Twitter after the designation was attached to the main @BBC account.
Responding to the complaint, Mr Musk asked: “Is the Twitter label accurate?”.
He later emailed the BBC, writing: “We are aiming for maximum transparency and accuracy. Linking to ownership and source of funds probably makes sense.
“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.”
He continued: “I should note that I follow BBC news on Twitter, because I think it is among the least biased.”
The broadcaster said it was speaking to Twitter about the designation.
It said in a statement: “The BBC is, and always has been, independent.
“We are funded by the British public through the licence fee.”
The label links through to a page on Twitter’s help centre which says “state-affiliated media” are outlets where the government “exercises control over editorial content through financial resources, direct or indirect political pressures, and/or control over production and distribution”.
That label was applied to US broadcaster NPR’s Twitter handle, but it has been changed to government-funded media – the same as the BBC account.
The BBC has always maintained its impartiality and operates through a Royal Charter agreed with government, which says it “must be independent”.
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