BBC protests ‘Government Funded Media’ label on Twitter after NPR earlier labelled ‘State-Affiliated’ in row over editorial independence
The corporation, which is funded by individual UK households through the licence fee, said the label was inaccurate.
“The BBC is, and always has been, independent. We are funded by the British public through the licence fee,” the BBC said in a statement.
The US’ National Public Radio (NPR) account also received the “Government Funded Media” label on Twitter on Saturday after earlier being labelled as “State-Affiliated Media” – a designation usually reserved for government propaganda outlets such as Russia’s RT or China’s Xinhua News.
NPR chief executive John Lansing had formally protested the designation, saying the company’s operations are overseen by independent journalists and not government officials.
NPR has ceased to post messages on its main account since 5 April In response to receiving the label last week.
The firm also changed its description to state that it is an “independent news organisation”.
In an email exchange with Twitter owner Elon Musk last week, an NPR reporter explained that the organisation receives about 1 percent of its funding from the federal government, with most of its revenues coming from sponsorships and programming fees paid by local public radio stations.
Musk told the reporter the rationale for the labels was “fair and equal treatment” in calling attention to government links with media both inside and outside the US.
“If we label non-US accounts as govt, then we should do the same for US, but it sounds like that might not be accurate here,” Musk wrote.
The “Government Funded Media” label links to a page describing “state-affiliated media” as that where the “state exercises control over editorial content through financial resources, direct or indirect political pressures, and/or control over production and distribution”.
Musk told the BBC in an email that the company was “aiming for maximum transparency and accuracy” and suggested the firm may provide a link to “ownership and source of funds”.
“I do think media organisations should be self-aware and not falsely claim the complete absence of bias,” he wrote.
“All organisations have bias, some obviously much more than others. I should note that I follow BBC News on Twitter, because I think it is among the least biased.”
The BBC is primarily funded by the licence fee, with additional funds from commercial and other activities.
The UK government provides more than £90m per year to support the BBC World Service, which is predominantly aimed at non-UK residents.
Musk has taken a confrontational attitude toward many news outlets since taking over Twitter, recently revoking the “authentic” checkmark from the platform’s New York Times feed in a dispute over payment.