The BBC has appointed TV executive John Hardie to review how its social media guidance applies to freelancers.

The review, which was announced by BBC Director-General Tim Davie earlier this month, will start immediately.

It is expected the review will be completed by the summer and any changes to the BBC’s social media guidance will then be published.

John Hardie is a former CEO and editor-in-chief of ITN and an executive vice president at Walt Disney. He has also served as the chair of the Royal Television Society. He has not worked for the BBC.

Under the review’s terms of reference, he will look at the BBC’s guidance covering “individual use of social media”, first published in October 2020, in relation to those working as on-air freelancers outside of News, Current Affairs and Factual journalism.

The review will consider how the BBC applies its guidance, considering the BBC’s Charter commitments to both impartiality and freedom of expression. Future guidance must be easy to understand, practical and deliverable.

He will specifically look at:

Which freelancers are covered by the guidance?

What impartiality requirements should apply to freelancers, if any? If so, how should they be defined?

Are all freelancers covered by the same requirements?

While this work is undertaken, the BBC’s existing social media guidance remains in place.

BBC Director-General Tim Davie said: “The BBC has important commitments to both impartiality and to freedom of expression. We also have a commitment to those working with us, and for us, to be clear in what we expect from them. The social media guidance is crucial to achieving this, particularly in a fast-paced, ever- changing world of digital media.

“This review will ensure this guidance is clear, proportionate and appropriate – now and in the future.”

John Hardie said: “I am very pleased to have been asked to conduct this review. I approach the task with no preconceptions and an open mind. I look forward to hearing from a wide range of voices, from both inside and outside the BBC, as the work progresses.”

Pippa Considine

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