Tim Davie is under increasing pressure to resign today after he was accused of rolling over for Gary Lineker who has been assured he can still tweet about politics despite his posts plunging the BBC into a civil war.
A major battle has broken out between between staff and management over whether bosses were right to U-turn and then apologise to the Match of the Day star for taking him off the air over his Nazi slur.
As some critics said the Lineker scandal will be the death knell for the licence fee, and Davie’s tenure for failing to get a grip on impartiality, one worker for the broadcaster said: ‘The BBC blinked first. You can feel the power draining away.’
Criticism of Lineker was voiced at a series of internal meetings, with bosses asked if Lineker and other pundits such as Alan Shearer and Ian Wright were aware of the effect of their actions on staff.
Some are also angered by a perceived inconsistency. Sportsmail understands social media accounts are closely monitored by BBC officials, with some reprimanded if they as much as ‘like’ a political view on Twitter.
One BBC staffer told The Times: ‘There is frustration with Tim Davie and central management too, both for their handling of the situation and for not clarifying the policy on impartiality in the past. And there is some anger towards Gary. He’s had enough warnings’.
Tim Davie’s handling of the crisis caused by Gary Lineker’s tweets has raised questions about his future with staff split over whether he was right to bring him back
Some BBC staff have confronted bosses and demanded to know if Lineker, Ian Wright and Alan Shearer are aware of the impact their actions have had on the BBC and its staff
Barbara Slater, Director of Sport, has been met with hostility and incredulity, according to reports, after she told staff that the fallout from suspending Lineker could not have been predicted
Lineker’s BBC colleagues are understood to be split after the ex-England footballer was reinstated following a backlash over a tweet comparing the Government’s migrant crackdown to Nazi Germany.
Sportsmail understands furious staff members confronted head of sport Barbara Slater over the way bosses dealt with the saga at a series of highly uncomfortable meetings.
The poll, presented to Slater, saw 80 per cent of respondents rate senior management zero out of five for the way they handled the situation.
There was also open incredulity at Slater when she claimed bosses could ‘not have seen how it would spiral’ after a host of pundits refused to work and brought the broadcaster to its knees after Lineker’s suspension.
Criticism of Lineker was voiced, with Slater asked if he and other pundits were aware of the effect of their actions on staff.
Some asked why Match of the Day, which ended up being shown over 20, commentary-less minutes, could not have been presented by someone else. Slater, who apologised for the mess, triggered further ire when she responded: ‘Because he (Lineker) is the best in the business.’
Some staff are also angered by a perceived inconsistency. Sportsmail understands social media accounts are closely monitored by BBC officials, with some reprimanded if they as much as ‘like’ a political view on Twitter.
Lineker will return to TV screens to present live coverage of the FA Cup quarter-final between Manchester City and Burnley on Saturday after a weekend of mutinous chaos in which fellow pundits and presenters walked out in solidarity.
Director general Tim Davie said he had taken ‘proportionate action’ over Lineker’s controversial tweet and insisted he had not backed down in the row.
But senior figures at the BBC fear the climbdown will lead to a ‘free for all’ of presenters and reporters testing impartiality rules by expressing their political opinions online while a review into the Corporation’s social media guidelines is conducted.
Gary Lineker (pictured) will return to TV screens to present live coverage of the FA Cup quarter-final between Manchester City and Burnley on Saturday
Director general Tim Davie said he had taken ‘proportionate action’ over Lineker’s controversial tweet
The tweet that landed Gary Lineker in hot trouble last week after he compared the language used to launch a new government asylum seeker policy with 1930s Germany
The corporation has said it is commissioning an independent review of its social media guidelines, particularly for freelancers, but this could take months.
Lee Anderson, deputy chairman of the Conservatives, described the BBC as ‘spineless’ over its handling of the issue.
He said: ‘In football, no player is bigger than the club – but Lineker has shown he is bigger than the BBC.’
A senior BBC source also told The Telegraph: ‘One would hope he (Lineker) has heard and taken very carefully on board the damage that he has done.
‘This has not come to an end but I think that Tim Davie has come through it so far in one piece. It has been a violent business.’
Meanwhile, BBC stars are said to have taken the corporation’s decision to allow Lineker to return as a ‘victory’ and a sign that management is now weakened.
An employee said: ‘The BBC blinked first. You can feel the power draining away.’
It comes as insiders have disclosed a ‘huge rift’ in the BBC Sport department, with some outraged by the way the debacle played out and a snap poll seen by Sportsmail revealing overwhelming contempt for bosses.
On a day of unprecedented anger at the broadcaster’s Salford HQ, Sportsmail understands furious staff members confronted director of sport Barbara Slater over the way bosses dealt with the saga at a series of highly uncomfortable meetings.
It comes as serving BBC journalists have accused Davie of being ‘so out of touch’ that he failed to foresee the chaos after Lineker was asked to step back from presenting Match of the Day.
In an interview with the BBC’s media correspondent David Sillito, director general Davie said he had taken ‘proportionate action’ over Lineker’s controversial tweet and insisted he had not backed down in the row.
But writing for BBC News, Mr Sillito said: ‘I asked Davie how was he so out of touch with his own corporation, staff and programmes that he did not foresee the chaos that would happen.’
He also said the impact on the BBC’s football coverage over the weekend was ‘a pretty clear sign there are many within the BBC who feel Lineker has been treated unfairly’.
Mr Sillito continued: ‘There are also those who are furious that such a highly-paid star of the BBC has not been punished for describing a statement by the home secretary on a key matter of public policy as ‘beyond awful’ and comparing the language used to set out the government’s asylum plan to ‘that used by Germany in the 30s’.
‘Nor has there been an apology from Lineker for tweets that the BBC says broke its guidelines.’
Davie suspended Lineker after he compared Government language on asylum seekers to Germany in the 1930s. That triggered a boycott by top names including Ian Wright, Alan Shearer and Mark Chapman.
Radio 5 Live programmes were also scrapped, including the 606 phone-ins and build-up to Saturday and Sunday matches.
Commentators Ian Dennis, Alistair Bruce-Ball and John Murray covered games for 5 Live in circumstances laced with intense pressure. They were subjected to online abuse, with some branding them ‘scabs’.
There is an internal BBC war over the reinstatement of Match of the Day host Gary Lineker
An internal poll revealed to Sportsmail showed fury at the way the situation was handled
On Monday, Davie said sorry to those impacted, announcing a review on social media guidelines. Lineker will be back for Saturday’s FA Cup quarter-final between Burnley and Manchester City.
‘Everyone recognises this has been a difficult period for staff, contributors, presenters and, most importantly, our audiences,’ Davie said. ‘I apologise for this.’
Lineker tweeted: ‘After a surreal few days, I’m delighted 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.’
Chapman told Monday Night Club on 5 Live: ‘This weekend has been miserable and difficult for everyone involved.
‘It is ironic that in a row over impartiality we have all been seen to be taking sides and I feel there are lessons to be learnt by all involved.’
His colleague, Sportsmail’s Chris Sutton, added: ‘I’m glad the situation has been resolved.’
The BBC have received widespread criticism over their handling of the situation, including from broadcaster Piers Morgan and Sportsmail’s Simon Jordan.
Morgan felt the organisation had handled the situation poorly, telling talkSPORT: ‘It’s not a debate about impartiality as much as it’s a debate about free speech.
‘Gary Lineker is not a BBC employee, he’s a freelancer, and like many freelancers who do stuff for the BBC, he reserves the right to have his opinions on his twitter feed.’
While Jordan also said on the radio station: ‘What they [BBC] did was handle it in a disastrously poor way, they didn’t communicate it properly, it looks like it’s been handed down from the Tories – and it may well have been.
‘It may well have been a directive from the Tory government, saying ‘we don’t like this’, and clearly some people think it is. I don’t care if that’s the case, but what do need to have is a BBC that operates with clear guidelines.’
Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk