The UK prime minister Rishi Sunak has found his meeting with French premier Emmanuel Macron this weekend totally overshadowed in the British media. On Saturday evening, Sunak’s office released a statement from the PM, saying:
“Gary Lineker was a great footballer and is a talented presenter. I hope that the current situation between Gary Lineker and the BBC can be resolved in a timely manner, but it is rightly a matter for them, not the government.”
This came after BBC chief Tim Davie’s apology to audiences during a weekend of disruption to the sports coverage schedule on both TV and radio.
Last night’s BBC flagship sports show Match of the Day was aired without any presenter, pundits, match commentary or even its legendary theme tune, and was reduced to a 20-minute highlights reel of the day’s matches.
Sunday’s sports programmes on both TV and radio are expected to similarly impacted.
The broadcaster’s director-general said in an interview – given to BBC News – that he was working hard to resolve the situation, which saw dozens of presenters, commentators and pundits stand down from broadcasting duties, and several shows having to be pulled from the schedules. They were acting in support of Gary Lineker – the host of Match of the Day – who was suspended after writing a tweet that was critical of the government’s immigration policy.
And Davie added:
“Success for me is getting Gary back on air and together we are giving to the audiences that world-class sports coverage which, as I say, I’m sorry we haven’t been able to deliver today.”
Davie denied the government pressured him into the move to suspend Lineker, adding that his main aim remained to protect the BBC’s unique selling point of impartiality across the board.
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