The BBC has been mocked by a Tory MP who suggested that scrapping the license fee would solve the broadcaster’s row with Twitter. The broadcaster was slapped with a “Government Funded Media” label as part of Elon Musk’s revamp of the social media platform. But hitting out at the label, a spokesperson for the BBC said: “We are speaking to Twitter to resolve this issue as soon as possible.”
They added: “The BBC is, and always has been, independent. We are funded by the British public through the license fee.”
Tory MP Jonathan Gullis mocked the broadcaster’s response, telling the Daily Express: “If the BBC aren’t happy, let’s scrap the license fee so they can raise their own funds. Problem solved!”
The new description was attached to the main @BBC Twitter account.
In an email to the BBC, Mr Musk said: “We are aiming for maximum transparency and accuracy.
“Linking to ownership and source of funds probably makes sense.
“I do think media organizations should be self-aware and not falsely claim the complete absence of bias.
“All organizations have bias, some obviously much more than others.”
He added: “I should note that I follow BBC news on Twitter, because I think it is among the least biased.”
Britons pay a license fee each year of £159 to fund its output.
The fee is set by the government but paid by individual households.
The BBC also draws income from some commercial operations.
Earlier this year, Twitter became embroiled in a row with American outlet NPR after it changed the outlet’s label to “state-affiliated media”.
Twitter’s help center 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”.
According to NPR, just 1 per cent of its annual operating budget comes from government grants.
Twitter has since changed the label on NPR’s account to “Government Funded Media” after NPR said it would not tweet from the account while it carried that description.
But when the label is clicked on, users are taken to a “state-affiliated media” description page.