Controversy between Twitter and the BBC, classified as “government-funded media”
Posted Apr 11, 2023, 2:50 PMUpdated on Apr 11, 2023, 3:22 PM Government-funded media. For…
Posted Apr 11, 2023, 2:50 PMUpdated on Apr 11, 2023, 3:22 PM
Government-funded media. For the past few days, the BBC’s official Twitter account has displayed this short label at the top of the page, to the chagrin of the institution, which is fiercely attached to its independence.
Monday, the public audiovisual group indicated on its site to refute this new label, specifying that it had contacted Elon Musk’s social network to resolve this dispute “as soon as possible”. “The BBC is and always has been independent. We are funded by the British public through the license fee, ”underlines the text.
Contacted by the British media, the owner of Twitter clarified his position: “We seek maximum transparency and accuracy. (…) I consider that media organizations should be aware of who they are and not falsely claim that they are without bias. (…) I want to note that I follow BBC News on Twitter, because I think it is one of the least biased. »
There BBC avoided the worst and the classification of “state-affiliated media”, which would have placed it on the same level as Russian public media “RT” and “Sputnik” or the Chinese audiovisual group “CCTV”. Twitter points to this difference on its online “Help Center”: “State-funded media outlets with editorial independence, such as the BBC in the UK or NPR in the US, are not defined as state-affiliated media for the purposes of this policy.”
Last week, the American radio station NPR was first categorized as “state media” on Twitter, and then publicly took offense. The label has since been changed to “government funded media.” »
Curiously, French public broadcasting still escapes the two labels. But neither France Televisions, neither French Radio, nor the antennae of France Media World cannot rely on the license fee, now abolished, to underline their funding autonomy vis-à-vis the State.
The question of independence
In 2023, instead of the fee, a fraction of the VAT has been allocated to them, for some 3.8 billion euros in total. But this mechanism must end at the end of 2024 and a financing solution must be found for the following years.
Financing by VAT could be made permanent. But if the government chose to finance public broadcasting directly from the state budget, it would be more difficult for public service branches to assert their independence.
“A media financed by earmarked revenue is generally qualified as ‘independent public service media’; a media financed from the state budget is generally qualified as ‘governmental media’”, explained the president of France Médias Monde, Marie-Christine Saragosse, during a parliamentary hearing in the summer of 2022.