UK: BBC in crisis after suspension of Gary Lineker

The British audiovisual giant is in turmoil after suspending the former footballer. The latter had criticized a government project.

NB with AFP

The BBC has suspended Gary Linker for criticizing a government bill on Twitter.

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ATfter the outcry over the suspension of Gary Linker, the BBC is under pressure this Sunday. No way out of the crisis seems in sight, two days after the storm triggered by the announcement of the suspension of the former footballer and star presenter of the very popular show “Match Of The Day”. This case revives both the debate on the group’s impartiality and criticism of its leadership.

BBC sports programming will be turned upside down for the second day in a row after the defection of many consultants and commentators, “in solidarity” with Gary Lineker. On Saturday, several football shows were canceled at the last minute, forcing the BBC to apologize to viewers. Gary Lineker, 62, was sacked on Friday after criticizing the Conservative government’s bill to prevent migrants arriving through the English Channel from seeking asylum in the UK, a plan denounced as far as the UN .

“Black-out at BBC Sport”, title Sunday the Sunday Express while the case was still in the headlines, amid a very tense debate on immigration and recurring criticism from the British right on alleged bias of the BBC.

“Reputation for independence and impartiality”

On Sunday morning, UK Finance Minister Jeremy Hunt said he wanted “the BBC to maintain its reputation for independence and impartiality”. “When you interview me, people need to know that you are doing it on behalf of the public, not for political reasons,” he said.

The BBC is regularly attacked by the conservatives, who accuse it in particular of having covered Brexit in a biased way and of being interested in the urban elites more than the working classes. The government froze the license fee for two years last year. The opposition, for its part, criticizes the BBC for having bowed to the pressure of power by suspending Gary Lineker. Critics are also mounting against the appointment in 2021, on the advice of the government, of Richard Sharp to the presidency of the BBC.READ ALSORishi Sunak, the anti-Johnson has arrivedThis former banker, financial support known to the Conservative party, would have, shortly before taking office, played the matchmaker to help his friend and former Prime Minister Boris Johnson to obtain a loan of 800,000 pounds (900,000 euros). “I think BBC chairman Richard Sharp should resign,” said Lib-Dem leader Ed Davey. “The Conservative government has been undermining the BBC for several years, including through its appointments. »

“A cruel policy aimed at the most vulnerable”

Under pressure, the group’s general manager, Tim Davie, “absolutely” refused to resign. He said he wanted to “settle the situation calmly” and “get Gary back on the air.” Gary Lineker “loves Match Of The Day but he will never go back on his words, ”said in the Sunday Mirror the footballer’s son, George Lineker.

On Twitter, where he has 8.8 million subscribers, Gary Lineker had denounced “a cruel policy aimed at the most vulnerable, in a language that is reminiscent of that used by Germany in the years 1930”. The government text, which according to the government aims to put an end to the illegal arrival of migrants through the Channel, was denounced by the UN, which accused London of wanting to “end the right of asylum”.

Gary Lineker, nicknamed “Mr Nice” for his impeccable behavior throughout his career – he has never received a single yellow card – is used to expressing his progressive political positions, in particular for the reception refugees.

The former striker with 48 goals in the jersey of England did not react publicly to his suspension but repeated this week that he fully assumed his words. On Saturday, he traveled to his hometown of Leicester, where he started his professional career, for the Foxes’ game against Chelsea in the Premier League. In the meantime, audiences exploded on Saturday for the unmissable “Match Of The Day”, which was broadcast in a reduced format, without a presenter or consultants. More than 2.5 million viewers watched, almost 500,000 more than the previous week according to the BBC.

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