BBC Sounds‘ paid tweet raises concerns about use of public money to soften public opinion regarding May’s Brexit incompetence
The BBC has paid Twitter to promote a podcast softening public cynicism about the incompetence and disarray of the government’s Brexit negotiations.
The tweet, promoting the BBC’s ‘Brexitcast’ podcast, leads with a headline suggesting Theresa May could pull a last-minute Brexit deal with the EU out of the hat – and is tagged as a paid promotion:
May has taken over two years to come up with an absolutely disastrous deal – and suffered a record parliamentary defeat when she attempted to win MPs’ approval for it. She is widely expected to lose when – after yet more delays – she puts the same deal back to Parliament.
With only days left before the UK leaves the EU and EU negotiators refusing to provide any more than non-binding assurances about the Northern Irish backstop and other issues, an optimistic claim that she might escape a no-deal crash by the skin of her teeth might form a legitimate part of a balanced, impartial debate about likely outcomes.
But paying to promote that specific claim above any other analysis?
The BBC claims its decision to do so was run of the mill. A spokesperson told the SKWAWKBOX:
The BBC does some targeted promotion to tell audiences about BBC programmes – including our impartial coverage and analysis in podcast Brexitcast. This is nothing new. It simply reflects that we’ve been challenged to do more for audiences who aren’t consuming the BBC as much to help them discover content they might like.
Impartial and honest coverage of the government’s Brexit performance would, of necessity, focus on its defining features: chaos and incompetence. Paying to promote an opinion piece that postulates the most optimistic conclusion imaginable is not compatible with the BBC’s impartiality remit.
Spending public money to help the government win a respite from criticism is an insult.
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