It has found itself mired in controversy on everything from Brexit bias to climate change and the gender pay gap.
The BBC has now entered a new minefield: discrimination against balding men.
Gary Lineker, the sports broadcaster, has disclosed the corporation received official complaints over a bald joke aimed at his Match of the Day co-hosts.
The BBC must now respond to the complaints from members of the public as per its policies, as its highest-paid presenter pokes fun at the grievance online.
By Tuesday, the corporation did not appear altogether contrite, with a clip of the offending segment remaining on its Twitter feed with an eyeball emoji and face crying with laughter to emphasise its tone.
Watched online by more than 100,000 people, on top of the millions watching the main show live, it saw Lineker tell viewers: “It’s a strong start to the premier league season. Real hair-raising stuff at times… unless you’re Alan Shearer and Danny Murphy.”
The camera then panned to the two pundits, who are both bald, laughing and shaking their heads.
The end of the clip invites social media users to “like, comment, share”.
Lineker shared news of a complaint with his 7.3m Twitter followers, saying: “The BBC has received a complaint about bald jokes on @BBCMOTD (genuinely). Very unfair I feel to call @alanshearer @IanWright0 & Danny Murphy jokes.”
The broadcaster, who is paid a salary of £1.75-1.76 million per year by the BBC but is classed as a freelancer, has regularly exercised his freedom of speech on Twitter, sharing divisive political opinions and considered largely untouchable by managers.
The BBC declined to respond to questions about the complaints, and would not confirm whether they were investigating a possible breach of standards in line with their own policies.
A spokesman also declined to explain whether bald jokes would continue to be welcomed on Match of the Day.
They are obliged to reply in some form to complainants, with feedback from viewers circulated to producers and managers.
Its diversity and inclusion policies apply to “gender, disability, ethnicity and sexual orientation”, and require “challenging ourselves to ensure that Diversity and Inclusion is hardwired into everything the BBC does”.
“At the BBC we are committed to reflecting and representing the diversity of the UK,” its internal guidance states.
“The BBC is for everyone and should include everyone whatever their background.” Lineker’s disclosure about the complaints, said to be a small number, inspired debate about whether it is acceptable to joke about male baldness.
“Oh thank god. A persecuted minority I can be part of! #bravebaldblokes” said one Twitter user in reply.
“I can take a joke, but have you not noticed that bald blokes are literally the only people left in society that can be shat on with impunity?” said another.
“Nobody would consider making a joke like that about a bald woman. I started going bald at fourteen; utterly destroyed my confidence.”
Another said, simply: “Snowflakes”.
On the one hand, I guess all topics are valid comedy-themes, and on the other, there aren't many parts of a person's body that people would openly ridicule (especially if it's something they haven't chosen, or can't change). It depends on the kind of world you want to live in...— Martyn J Smith (@MartynJohnSmit2) August 20, 2019
Very unfair on the over 75s to fund your exorbitant salary. (genuinely)— Mark Fletcher (@MarkFletch117) August 20, 2019
Careful Gary, there’s gonna be hell toupee.— RYE (@whiteboy_1987) August 20, 2019
Lineker has previously teased his less hirsute co-presenters, replying to a photograph of himself next to Shearer in 2016: “Jeez, my bald spot is nearly as large as yours.”
A spokesman for Alopecia UK said that, while Lineker’s joke was likely “jovial in nature and with no malice intended”: "It’s a shame that those in the media still use that platform in a way that reinforces negativity towards hair loss.
“We increasingly hear from more and more men who struggle with hair loss.
“In today’s society, it seems that jokes about bald men are more acceptable than jokes about bald women or children and this can lead to men with hair loss feeling they are not supported when they struggle to come to terms with their change in appearance.
“Jokes about anyone’s physical attributes are extremely outdated and this includes ‘banter’ about hair loss."