Presenters of flagship BBC shows must not attack or endorse political parties shortly before, during and shortly after the programme is on air, under new guidance.
The corporation has published specific guidance, as part of its social media review, for its high-profile presenters hosting flagship programmes.
The rules must be followed while the programme is on air and for a two-week window before and after the series.
It comes after a tweet by Match of the Day Host Gary Lineker prompted an impartiality row.
Lineker was briefly suspended by the BBC after he compared the language used to launch a new government asylum seeker policy with that of 1930s Germany on Twitter.
Former England striker Lineker described the BBC’s updated social media guidance as “all very sensible” on X, formerly known as Twitter.
The new guidance noted that while it has rules on impartiality, it recognises the importance of freedom of expression.
Why does the BBC have impartiality rules?
The BBC is essentially the state broadcaster and, as such, attempts to follow rules on impartiality.
It is publicly funded in the form of a compulsory licence fee by anyone watching live television.
As a result the BBC has rules on impartiality so that it reflects a variety of views of everyone who watches and funds it – so as to ensure it does not get accused of supporting one particular viewpoint.
In its own guidance on impartiality, the BBC say it is “fundamental to our reputation, our values and the trust of audiences”.
What are the BBC’s impartiality rules?
The BBC’s impartiality rules are in place for all of its output, but it is of particular importance when reporting on news and current affairs.
Balance between opposing viewpoints should be given, while a range of viewpoints should also be “appropriately reflected”.
Presenters and programmes should also not appear to endorse any campaigns they report on – such as in the Brexit referendum or in general elections.
Writers for shows are regarded as artists and are given more freedom to explore subjects from one perspective – as long as it is made clear to audiences where personal views are being expressed.
But the BBC say that audience should not be able to tell from BBC output the personal opinions of its presenters, reporters and correspondents – as they are “the public face and voice of the BBC”.
They may provide professional judgements but “may not express personal views on such matters publicly”, the BBC guidance states.
Does the public trust the BBC?
While there has been recent controversy on the impartiality of the BBC, polls suggest that they are still the most trusted source of news in the country.
According to YouGov, 44% of Britons consider the BBC ‘very trustworthy’ or ‘trustworthy’, compared to 21% who consider it to be untrustworthy.