Anurag Thakur questions BBC\'s journalistic independence

BBC suspended former England captain and star sports anchor Gary Lineker after he criticised the UK government\'s immigration policy

Update: 2023-03-12 04:46 GMT
Union Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports Anurag Thakur (PTI)

New Delhi: Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur on Saturday questioned the journalistic independence of the BBC after the media house suspended a former footballer and star anchor for his remarks on social media and reportedly took a documentary off air.

Thakur took a swipe at the UK-based public broadcaster while sharing two news reports on the BBC suspending former England captain and star sports anchor Gary Lineker after he criticised the UK government's immigration policy and taking off air a documentary by David Attenborough "over fearing of right-wing backlash".

"Interesting to see how the BBC which makes lofty claims about journalistic objectivity and independence suspends their star anchor over his social media activity," the Union minister said on Twitter.

"In yet another interesting exhibit, BBC suspends airing of a documentary it shot over fears that it would anger a section of society," he said.

"Fake narrative setting and ethical journalism are inherently contradictory. Those indulging in malicious propaganda forged in concocted facts can obviously never be expected to have the moral fibre or the courage to stand up for journalistic independence,"Thakur said.

The government had, in January, banned the BBC documentary 'The Modi Question' on the 2002 Gujarat riots and termed it as a propaganda piece.

The BBC has stood by the documentary, calling it “rigorously researched according to highest editorial standards”.

Last month, the income tax Department conducted a survey at the BBC offices in Delhi and Mumbai to investigate a charge of "deliberate non-compliance with Indian laws including transfer pricing rules and diversion of profits illegally".

The BJP had launched a scathing attack on the BBC, calling it the "most corrupt" and accusing it of unleashing "venomous" propaganda against India.

On Saturday, the BBC denied the report that it decided not to broadcast an episode narrated by world-famous conservationist Sir David Attenborough for a new wildlife series over fears of a right-wing backlash.

“This is totally inaccurate, there is no ‘sixth episode'. ‘Wild Isles' is – and always was – a five-part series and does not shy away from environmental content,” a BBC statement said.

The broadcaster is also reeling under a controversy over football legend Gary Lineker.

Several of the BBC's regular sports presenters have stepped back in solidarity with Lineker after he was suspended over a controversial tweet related to the government's immigration policy.

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