Tim Davie says BBC will be able to strip stars of Twitter accounts

Gary Lineker today publicly laughed at his new boss Tim Davie's plans to suspend BBC employees' Twitter accounts if they breach impartiality guidelines.

Mr Davie, who has been the BBC's director-general for less than a month, told MPs that the 'imminent' rules would cover those in news, current affairs and beyond - and singled out the £1.35million-a-year star's' 'flavoursome turn of phrase' online.

The new measures will no doubt have an impact on the Match of the Day presenter's often politically-charged Twitter feed, but he responded to today's announcement with three laughing emojis, adding: 'I think only Twitter can take people off Twitter.'

Mr Davie also spoke about issues facing the BBC, such as its cost-cutting plans and the impact of the proposed decriminalisation of the non-payment of the licence fee.

And he defended Zoe Ball's salary, recently revealed to be £1.36million in 2019/20, and the BBC's record of reporting across the whole of the UK instead of just England.

Mr Davie also told the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee today:

The BBC must not be associated with one 'point of view or perspective on life'; The broadcaster may aim to secure less of its viewers' time in the future; The BBC has 'a very strong editorial grip of what we do'; Natural history, current affairs and entertainment help procure young talent.

In addition, he said 20 gender discrimination cases were outstanding at the BBC, but he was not sure whether the BBC was still requiring non-disclosure agreements.

Sports presenter and pundit Gary Lineker has just signed a new five-year contract with the broadcaster, with a 23 per cent pay cut - from £1.75million to around £1.35million

Sports presenter and pundit Gary Lineker has just signed a new five-year contract with the broadcaster, with a 23 per cent pay cut - from £1.75million to around £1.35million

Mr Davie, who took over the role from Tony Hall on September 1, told the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee: 'We are going to be publishing in the next few weeks, and this is imminent, clear social media guidelines, and they will cover both news and current affairs, and beyond news and current affairs.

'We will have, within those guidelines, the enforcement policies will be very clear. We will be able to take disciplinary action. We will be able to take people off Twitter. I know people want to see hard action on this.'

He added: 'If they want to work for the BBC, I can ask people, you would suspend their Twitter account, absolutely.'

He also commented on sports presenter and pundit Lineker, who it was recently revealed has just signed a new five-year contract with the broadcaster, with a 23 per cent pay cut - from £1.75million to around £1.35million.

Lineker has dismissed suggestions he has been asked to tweet more carefully.

The new measures will no doubt have an impact on Gary Lineker's colourful Twitter feed, but he responded to today's announcement with three laughing emojis

The new measures will no doubt have an impact on Gary Lineker's colourful Twitter feed, but he responded to today's announcement with three laughing emojis

Lineker later added in another tweet: 'I think only Twitter can take people off Twitter'

Lineker later added in another tweet: 'I think only Twitter can take people off Twitter'

Addressing the issue, Mr Davie said: 'I would note that Gary Lineker has actually been very clear in his statements recently, saying 'I understand I have responsibilities when working at the BBC'.

Tim Davie defends Zoe Ball's £1.36m salary 

Tim Davie defended Zoe Ball's salary, recently revealed in the annual report to be £1.36 million in 2019/20, which does not include fronting Strictly Come Dancing's It Takes Two.

Ball has shed a million listeners in her first year on Radio 2 after taking over the Breakfast Show from Chris Evans.

He said: 'Well, I think the point here is, if you'll allow me just to say quickly on the overall topic of talent pay. You would expect me to say this but we've got 28,000 people who appear on our screens and airwaves... we've got 76 people on the list and we are seeing the overall kind of list being managed down in the right way.

'The point here is and this is uncomfortable territory but we've always had in the realm of entertainment, a couple of areas where we are without doubt, you know, I understand this but look at the NAO report on the market for talent and what we pay, it's very uncomfortable territory but the truth is in a couple of spots, and that is high-end TV entertainment and the main breakfast show of Radio 2 we've always been in the market and you know, go to Google and have a look at some of the speculated prices on other networks that people are paying, that we pay serious money.

'On the listening figures, I understand the point, but this is still 0.1 pence per listener hour, I still think Zoe is an exceptional broadcaster... having said all of that and you'll see the negotiation we've done with Gary Lineker, I think we are renegotiating contracts and we, and myself, want to get good money for you as a licence fee payer.' 

Match Of The Day host Lineker has signed a new five-year contract with the broadcaster, but with a 23 per cent pay cut - from £1.75million to around £1.35million. 

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'Those responsibilities will be clearly laid out and my belief is, as I say, I am now the director-general so I am running the show, and in my view party political statements are not the right thing for people to be making if they are, as part of an impartial news organisation.

'I mean, we will come back with social media guidelines to make clear where the lines are.

'If someone is a face of the BBC I think entering into party politics seems to be not the right place to be and I've been very clear about that.'  

Mr Davie was also asked about Lineker's response to his announcement of stricter social media rules for BBC employees.

He said: 'I think Gary has always got a flavoursome turn of phrase.

'What I would say is that Gary has said since - the thing is to judge us now as the BBC on what we tweet, how we tweet and our social media profile.

'I think Gary has been very clear. He has said that he is not concerned by what he said. You can let the man speak for himself. He said he understands his responsibilities as a person within the BBC.

'The good thing is I will be making that even clearer as I go through my social media guidelines.' 

Lineker is known for his bombastic style on Twitter, where he frequently pontificates on issues such as Brexit and migration.

But he denied earlier this month that the new BBC boss had ordered him to tone down his tweets. 

To suggestions Mr Davie had tried to muzzle him, Lineker insisted on September 18: 'No, no. It's never happened.'

He told the Times at the time: 'I tweet carefully. I think the BBC trust me. I know where the land lies - you can't hold the BBC in disrepute.'

The corporation has strict impartiality rules, but Lineker says he is freelance, not staff.

In 2018 Jonathan Agnew, the BBC's voice of cricket, told Lineker to keep his political views to himself, adding: 'I'd be sacked if I followed your example.' 

Lineker has previously boasted he can 'tweet what he likes'.  

Separately, the BBC has warned that switching to a civil system for the licence fee would cost the broadcaster more than £200million a year.

Addressing the proposed decriminalisation of non-payment of the licence fee, Mr Davie said it was 'a bit early for us to make

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