LONDON (Reuters) – The new boss of the BBC told staff they should not air their own political views on social media because they risked damaging the British broadcaster’s reputation for impartiality.
Tim Davie, 53, who became the corporation’s 17th director general on Tuesday, said too many of its audience thought the broadcaster was shaped by a “particular perspective”.
“If you want to be an opinionated columnist or a partisan campaigner on social media then that is a valid choice, but you should not be working at the BBC,” he said on Thursday in his first speech to staff.
Davie, who replaced Tony Hall in Britain’s most high-profile media job, needs to secure the future of the 98-year-old corporation at a time when its universal funding model, paid by every TV watching household, is under attack from some lawmakers.
He said for the avoidance of doubt he did not want a “subscription BBC that served the few”, even if he suspected it could do quite well in certain parts of the country.
He was committed to a publicly funded BBC, he said, but it had to reflect all political views across all of the United Kingdoms and all age groups.
“This is not just an obsession with youth, it is a determination, an obligation to make all parts of the UK feel it is their BBC,” he said.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has questioned whether the corporation should be supported by the license fee, given the growth of subscription services such as Netflix, and many in his Conservative Party have long criticized the BBC for what they perceive to be a left-leaning political bias.
Others on the opposite side of the political spectrum have also criticized some of the broadcaster’s news coverage.
Davie said he had no plans to close any TV channels or radio stations, but he said there would be no “linear expansion” for the broadcaster, with any new services having to find space on its existing networks.