- Adam Durbin
- BBC News
The BBC has protested the new designation, describing it as “state-funded media” on one of its main Twitter accounts.
The BBC says it is talking to the social media giant about hashing the @BBC account to “resolve this issue as soon as possible”.
It issued a statement: “The BBC is and always will be independent. We get our funding from the British public through license fees.”
Twitter has been contacted for comment.
The government has set an annual license fee of £159 ($197), which is required by law to watch live TV or broadcasts in the UK, but is paid by individual British households.
While the @BBC account, which has 2.2 million followers, is labeled this way, much larger accounts associated with BBC news and sports production are currently not labeled in the same way.
This account mainly publishes updates on TV programmes, radio programmes, podcasts and other non-news material produced by the BBC.
“Government media accounts,” the post links to a page on Twitter’s help site, “are defined as outlets that exercise government control over editorial content through funding sources, direct or indirect political pressure, and/or control over production and distribution.”
As the UK’s national broadcaster, the BBC operates through a Royal Charter agreed with the government.
The BBC’s charter states that the organization “must be independent”, specifically in “editorial and creative decisions, the timing and manner in which its products and services are delivered and the conduct of its affairs”.
The new rating for Twitter’s BBC account follows a deal with US public broadcaster NPR.
The social media company initially described NPR as “state media” — a move that was given to other outlets, including Russia’s Russia Today and China’s Xinhua.
The label was later changed to the same “government funded media” tag used for the @BBC account. NPR said it would stop tweeting from the account unless the rating was changed.
The license fee has raised £3.8 billion ($4.7 billion) for the BBC by 2022, representing about 71 percent of the BBC’s total income of £5.3 billion – with the rest coming from its business and other activities such as grants and rental income.
The BBC receives more than £90 million annually from the government to support the World Service, which mainly serves a non-British audience.
By law, every household in England must pay a license fee (with some exceptions).
- You watch or record programs while they are being shown on any TV channel
- Programs watched live or streamed on any internet TV service – for example, All4, YouTube or Amazon Prime Video
- Download or watch any BBC program on BBC iPlayer
License fees and non-payment enforcement are collected by the private companies the company contracts with, not the UK Government.
Television license evasion is not a punishable offense. However, failure to pay fines can result in imprisonment after a criminal conviction – a “last resort” after other enforcement avenues have failed.
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