Elon Musk convinces Twitter to remove ‘government funded’ tag from BBC account

Twitter has modified its label for the main BBC account from “government funded media” to “publicly funded” following an objection from the broadcaster. Twitter CEO Elon Musk confirmed the change during an interview with BBC News on Tuesday, stating that the platform aimed for accuracy. On Sunday, the BBC challenged the initial description, emphasizing that it has always been independent and is funded by the British public through the license fee.

Musk acknowledged the broadcaster’s concerns and suggested using the BBC’s own description of itself to label the account. The BBC welcomed Twitter’s decision. Twitter had used the same “government funded” label for US public broadcaster NPR, which announced on Wednesday it would stop posting new content on the social media platform.

The BBC account on Twitter originally had a label reading “government-funded media” that linked to a page defining such outlets as having “varying degrees of government involvement over editorial content.” The BBC objected to the label, pointing out that the corporation’s Royal Charter mandates independence in editorial and creative decisions, as well as the management of its affairs.

The BBC is mainly funded by the license fee paid by UK residents, which accounted for 71% of its total income of £5.3bn in 2022, with the rest coming from commercial and other activities. The BBC World Service, which primarily serves non-UK audiences, receives more than £90m per year from the government. Recent concerns have been raised about government influence on the BBC, but director general Tim Davie has stated that board members do not shape editorial content.

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