On Saturday, football programmes were abruptly cancelled when presenters and commentators protested in favour of Match of the Day host Gary Lineker.
The length of Match of the Day was cut to 20 minutes.
For criticising the government’s contentious asylum policy, Lineker was suspended. Mr. Davie, though, denied being forced into the change by the administration.
Match of the Day on BBC One on Saturday night was broadcast without a presenter, without commentary, and without the participation of analysts Alan Shearer and Ian Wright.
The show also lacked its well-known theme song and opening credits. The Premier League Highlights image introduced the programme, which then immediately began playing footage from the Bournemouth vs. Liverpool match, with the crowd noise in place of the customary narration.
We are working very hard to remedy the matter, Mr. Davie added, acknowledging that it had been a “tough day” for the business.
In an interview with BBC News, Mr. Davie stated that “getting Gary back on air and together we are delivering the public that world-class sports coverage which, as I say, I’m sorry we haven’t been able to provide today” constitute success for him.
The director general acknowledged that “this has been a challenging period for the BBC” but vowed “absolutely not” to step down.
In response to claims from opposition parties that BBC management had caved to pressure from Downing Street and ministers over the anti-government tweet, he asserted that there had been no “pandering” to any political party.
Lineker was reportedly instructed to “stand aside” after becoming “engaged in party political affairs,” according to Mr. Davie. He stated that he was ready to reconsider the impartiality standards for independent contractors like Lineker.
George Lineker, Lineker’s son, was mentioned in the Sunday Mirror as believing that his father will return to hosting Match of the Day. Lineker, though, “won’t ever back down on his word,” George asserted.
Lineker described the Illegal Migration Bill as “immeasurably brutal policy geared at the most vulnerable individuals in terminology that is not unlike to that employed by Germany in the 30s” in his comments on it on Tuesday.
His dismissal on Friday sparked a larger discussion over the BBC’s objectivity, the government’s immigration policy, and Richard Sharp’s role as head of the corporation.
The BBC’s sports department also saw an unparalleled day of chaos as a result, with some of the most recognisable voices and faces from its football coverage quitting their jobs.
The BBC was compelled to air reruns of shows or play podcasts on Radio 5 Live to fill up scheduling gaps on a day that should have included morning to evening football programming on TV and radio.
At least an hour and a half before it was scheduled to begin, host Alex Scott tweeted that it “doesn’t seem right going on with the programme today.” As a result, Football Focus was cancelled for the midday hour.
When anchor Jason Mohammad informed the BBC that he was unwilling to appear, Final Score was pulled from the 16:00 time slot.
Fighting Talk, a regular Saturday morning programme on Radio 5 Live, was cancelled due to a staff boycott, a decision that was “made by the entire… crew and myself,” according to presenter Colin Murray.
Reruns of Bargain Hunt and The Repair Shop greeted viewers tuning in to see the afternoon’s events on television. At one point, 5 Live started playing back previously recorded content.
“We’re sorry we’re unable to show our typical Match of the Day, with commentary tonight, but here now is the greatest action from today’s Premier League matches,” the continuity presenter said before Match of the Day began airing on BBC One at 22:20.
Major concerns exist over Sunday’s scheduled coverage and the BBC’s ability to broadcast Match of the Day 2 with Mark Chapman. On Saturday, the host was not on the air.
In a statement on Saturday night, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak termed Lineker a “brilliant broadcaster,” but stressed that the controversy was outside the purview of the government.
As prime minister, I must act in accordance with my convictions while acknowledging that not everyone will always share them. I’ve been clear-cut in my approach to halting the boats because of this.
“Gary Lineker is a good presenter in addition to being a fantastic footballer. Although I hope the present conflict between Gary Lineker and the BBC may be handled quickly, it is rightfully their problem, not the government.
A representative for the Department of Culture, Media, and Sport asserted that “particular instances are a matter for the BBC,” despite recent criticism from Downing Street and numerous senior ministers.
The broadcaster has come under fire from the Home Secretary Suella Braverman and the Culture Minister Lucy Frazer for making an implied connection between the government’s language and Nazi Germany.
It was “lazy and unhelpful,” according to Ms. Braverman, for Lineker to invoke the Nazi parallel.
Leader Sir Keir Starmer and other prominent Labour politicians have endorsed Lineker. Instead of “whingeing on” about Lineker, he claimed, the government should concentrate on improving the refugee system, and he charged BBC executives of caving in to ministerial pressure.
The leader of the Liberal Democrats, Sir Ed Davey, demanded that BBC chairman Richard Sharp step down, claiming that the controversy revealed “failings at the top” of the organisation.
He said, “We need leadership at the BBC that supports our strong British values and can endure today’s persistently tumultuous politics and bullying tactics by the Conservatives.
Greg Dyke, who served as director general from 2000 to 2004, said earlier on Saturday that the BBC had “undermined its own credibility” due to the way it handled the controversy.
He alluded to the continuing scandal surrounding Mr Sharp, saying the Lineker move might convey the impression the “BBC has surrendered to government pressure”.
An continuing KC-led investigation into Mr. Sharp’s selection as BBC chairman is looking into whether he gave accurate disclosure of his role in helping to arrange an £800,000 loan guarantee for former Prime Minister Boris Johnson. He has denied having any part in setting up a loan for Mr. Johnson.
A separate internal investigation into any possible conflicts of interest Mr. Sharp could have in his present position as BBC chairman is being carried out by the broadcaster.
Former head of BBC TV News and director of sport, Roger Mosey, also called for Mr Sharp to leave and said the chairman had “hurt the BBC’s reputation”.
Some, though, have backed the BBC’s actions more. The BBC had “no choice,” according to Richard Ayre, a former controller of editorial policy at the organisation, but to take action against Lineker.
“It’s inevitable now that having in effect not sacked him but removed him temporarily at least,” he continued, “the BBC will now come under a torrent of criticism saying it’s acting under the government’s behest.” He claimed that the BBC’s director general Tim Davie had “clearly tried” to come to an agreement with Lineker but had failed.
Lineker, who has hosted Match of the Day since 1999 and made roughly £1.35 million in 2020–21, is the BBC’s highest-paid celebrity. He works for the BBC on a contract basis.
Although there is some disagreement about how these rules should be applied to personnel who do not work in journalism, BBC employees are required to maintain their objectivity on political issues and must adhere to rigorous social media standards.
According to information provided to BBC News, the Match of the Day production team was not informed in advance of its decision about Lineker.
Lineker was spotted on Saturday watching a Leicester City game at home but has not yet made any public comments on the most recent events.