Washington [US]: Elon Musk has sparked a row with the BBC after labelling the broadcaster as a “government-funded media” organisation, however, Britain’s national broadcaster was quick to push back against the categorisation, reported CNN.
The label now appears on outlets that receive some government funding, including BBC, PBS, NPR and Voice of America. However, it does not appear on other government-backed outlets, such as Canada’s CBC or Qatar’s Al Jazeera. The @BBC account – which has 2.2 million followers – is currently branded as government funded. The label has not been given to the BBC’s other accounts, including BBC News (World) and BBC Breaking News, reported CNN.
Twitter has not given a definition for what it considers “government-funded media” to constitute.
In a statement provided to CNN, the BBC said, “We are speaking to Twitter to resolve this issue as soon as possible. The BBC is and always has been, independent. We are funded by the British public through the licence fee.”
BBC is predominantly funded by UK households via a license fee, which is also required to watch non-BBC channels or live services. This is supplemented by income from commercial operations.
BBC’s branding comes after a row erupted between Musk and the American NPR network after Musk changed NPR’s label to “state-affiliated media” – which effectively suggested the US government could influence its editorial policy and compare it to outlets such as the Kremlin-funded Russia Today.
Following backlash from NPR – who said it would not tweet from the account while the label was in place – it was instead changed to “government-funded media,” reported CNN.
The label from Twitter even sparked a backlash from the White House, with Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre saying “there’s no doubt of the independence of NPR’s journalists.”
NPR receives some funding from public institutions but the vast majority comes from sources such as corporate sponsorships and NPR membership fees.
Twitter defines state-affiliated media outlets 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.”
Critics of the move have pointed out that Twitter CEO Elon Musk’s other companies, Tesla and SpaceX, have received billions in government funding, grants and subsidies throughout the years, but neither of them has a “government-funded” label on their Twitter accounts, reported The Hill.