Outraged BBC viewers have reported cancelling their licence fee in anger after Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker was taken off air for comparing the Government’s language on migrants with that of the Nazis.
With the BBC plunged into crisis as presenters, pundits and commentators pulled out of appearing on shows today, licence fee payers took to social media to say they were cancelling their direct debit payments.
Former England striker Lineker, 62, was axed from the BBC’s flagship football show on Friday after he refused to apologise for his criticism of the Government’s new asylum policy.
He confirmed to i that he decision for him to “step back” was forced upon him. He is understood to have been reduced to tears by the support he has received.
BBC viewers also criticised the corporation after Question Time host Fiona Bruce said an alleged assault by Stanley Johnson’s on his wife was a “one off” and a report in the Guardian – disputed by the BBC – that the corporation would not show an episode of Sir David Attenborough’s new series on British wildlife due to fears of a “right wing backlash”.
One viewer, Simone Gordon, 42, from Lincoln, said: “I have felt for a while that there has been bias towards the Government shown by the BBC in its news coverage.
“The treatment of Gary Lineker this week confirmed what I feared. Fiona Bruce describing Stanley Johnson in last night’s Question Time hitting his wife ‘just the once’ seemed further proof of this.
“The BBC’s decision not to broadcast (Sir) David Attenborough’s episode in case it offended right-wing viewers was the final straw.
“I had to cancel my TV licence otherwise I would feel that I would be supporting their agenda.”
The BBC has defended Bruce, stating she was voicing the context of domestic abuse allegations made towards Mr Johnson, former Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s father, and also claimed there “was no sixth episode” of Sir David’s Wild Isles.
Ms Gordon said she would send her licence fee money to the RSPB, a charity which helped to produce the contested sixth episode of Sir David’s show, Saving Our Wild Isles, which is about restoring biodiversity in the UK.
“I think the BBC has sold its soul – the once great public service broadcaster is now in my view nothing more than a mouthpiece for the most right-wing British government ever to hold office,” said Ms Gordon, a Labour voter.
“Shame on them. The BBC is not, in my view, impartial anymore.”
Another viewer tweeted: “I’ve just cancelled my TV licence @bbc #StandwithGary Thank god I got to see the final episode of Happy Valleys first.”
One said: “BBC licence cancelled. I’ll reinstate it when @GaryLineker Is reinstated. Never be a bystander”.
And another posted: “Dear @BBC my TV licence has now been cancelled . You have demonstrated your complete impartiality and have misread the room #SolidarityWithGaryLineker #bbcqt #DefundTheBBC.”
Angela Riley, an outdoor nursery manager from Edinburgh, Scotland, shared a Guardian article about the controversy surrounding Sir David’s documentary series on Twitter, stating: “That’s it – monthly TV Licence cancelled until further notice.
“I can no longer in good faith continue to fund the slow but relentless assault on the integrity of the BBC by this (Conservative) government.”
The 42-year-old, who grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa, told the PA news agency the events on Friday were “a step too far”.
“I lived through years of an apartheid South Africa and saw first hand how the state’s media was used for political gain and to stir up hatred amongst its citizens,” she said.
“You can’t ever downplay the influence and responsibility the media has, to coin a phrase from (CNN news anchor) Christiane Amanpour, to be ‘truthful, not neutral.’
“Sadly, this for me is a step too far. The final nail in the coffin.”