BBC is objecting to a new label describing it as “government-funded media” on one of its main Twitter accounts.
The corporation says it is speaking to the social media company about the designation on the @BBC account to “resolve this issue as soon as possible”.
Twitter has been contacted for comment.
While the @BBC account, which has 2.2m followers, has been given the label, much larger accounts associated with the BBC’s news and sport output are not currently being described in the same way.
The account primarily shares updates about BBC-produced TV programmes, radio shows, podcasts and other non-news material.
The label links through to a page on Twitter’s help website which says “state-affiliated media accounts” are defined as “outlets where the state exercises control over editorial content through financial resources, direct or indirect political pressures, and/or control over production and distribution”.
As the UK’s national broadcaster, the BBC operates through a Royal Charter agreed with the government.
Twitter’s new labelling of the BBC’s account comes after it did the same to US public broadcaster NPR’s handle.
Initially the social media firm described NPR as “state-affiliated media” – a label given to outlets including Russia’s RT and China’s Xinhua News.
The designation was later changed to the same “government funded media” tag now applied to the @BBC account. NPR had said it would stop tweeting from the account unless it was amended.
The licence fee raised £3.8bn ($4.7bn) in 2022 for the BBC, accounting for about 71% of the BBC’s total income of £5.3bn – with the rest coming from its commercial and other activities like grants, royalties and rental income.
The BBC also receives more than £90m per year from the government to support the BBC World Service, which predominantly serves non-UK audiences.
The national broadcaster’s output is also paid for through the work of commercial subsidiaries like BBC Studios, as well as through advertising on services offered to audiences outside of the UK
By law, each household in the UK has to pay the licence fee (with some exemptions) if they:
watch or record programmes as they’re being shown on any TV channel
watch or stream programmes live on any online TV service – for instance, All 4, YouTube, or Amazon Prime Video
download or watch any BBC programmes on BBC iPlayer
Collection of the the licence fee and enforcement of non-payment is carried out by private companies contracted by the corporation, not the UK government.
TV licence evasion itself is not an imprisonable offence. However, non-payment of a fine, following a criminal conviction, could lead to a risk of imprisonment – “a last resort” after other methods of enforcement have failed.
Twitter help link – https://help.twitter.com/en/rules-and-policies/state-affiliated
Royal Charter link – https://www.bbc.com/aboutthebbc/governance/charter
License fee raised link – https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/cbp-8101/
With some exemptions link – https://www.gov.uk/free-discount-tv-licence