BBC chief comments on Joe Lycett’s Liz Truss jokes on Laura Kuenssberg show
Mr Lycett had jokingly said during BBC’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg that he was “very right-wing” and felt “reassured” following Truss’ live interview in the studio
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BBC’s director-general has defended Laura Kuenssberg’s conduct on the first episode of her news show where comedian Joe Lycett made some sarcastic remarks. BBC Chief Tim Davie said Ms Kuenssberg behaved in an “exemplary fashion” during the episode.
Mr Lycett - who is no stranger to controversy - had jokingly said during BBC’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg that he was “very right-wing” and felt “reassured” following Truss’ live interview in the studio.
Mr Davie, who was discussing impartiality within the BBC during a Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee meeting on Tuesday (6 September), said he didn’t think booking the comedian for the show displayed “BBC bias in the slightest” as he felt “the audience saw it for what it was”.
He said: “We can debate exactly what you debated about whether it was the right booking, but what I will say is Laura conducted herself, as the BBC host, I thought in an exemplary fashion in a slightly difficult situation. We move on.”
He later described the comedian’s antics as “bemusing”.
Mr Lycett of Birmingham is known for his public stunts while raising awareness of issues such as single-use plastic. He also is the host of Channel 4’s consumer rights show, Joe Lycett’s Got Your Back, where he questions large corporations.
The BBC chief reflected on impartiality of the BBC’s content and said: “We do have hundreds of thousands of hours of output… and overall, I think we are delivering well, I do think that and it’s important that we’re proportional about this.”
He was also asked by a committee member about how sports pundit Gary Lineker, one of the BBC’s highest earners, voices his opinion on political matters on social media ocassionally.
Mr Davie answered saying he has discussed with Mr Lineker about him following BBC impartiality guidelines. He feels the sports pundit has made a “massive improvement to where he was a few years ago”.
“I’m very supportive of Gary, I think he’s a brilliant presenter, and I think it is work in progress in terms of where he draws the line, but we’ve had a good conversation, I think he understands the guidelines,” Mr Davie said.
What do BBC’s editorial guidelines say about impartiality?
BBC set out new guidelines in 2020 and training was conducted, aimed to “ensure the highest possible standards of impartiality” among staff at the broadcaster. BBC staff editorial guidelines state “nothing should appear on their social media accounts which undermines the integrity or impartiality of the BBC”. Employees are also forbidden from disclosing publicly how they vote or their support for any political party.
The guidelines also say staff should not “advocate any particular position on a matter of public policy, political or industrial controversy, or any other ‘controversial subject’”.
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