Public Media Body Demands Twitter Drop “Government-Funded Media” Label From All Accounts

It may have ceded to the BBC, but Elon Musk’s Twitter is back under pressure from the world’s public service broadcasters.

The Global Task Force for Public Media has called on the social media platform to correct the designation of four of its members on the site.

The ABC in Australia, CBC/Radio Canada, Korean Broadcasting System and Radio New Zealand are currently labeled as “Government-funded Media” on their official Twitter accounts, the same title that was bestowed on the UK’s PSB, The BBC.

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Labeling them as such “misleads audiences about their operational and editorial independence from government,” the Global Task Force said in a statement signed by its eight members, which include the four networks impacted, the BBC, France Télévisions, ZDF in Germany and SVT in Sweden.

The Global Task Force statement notes Twitter’s own policy defines government-funded media as organizations that “may have varying degrees of government involvement over editorial content.” This is not the case with the ABC, CBC/Radio Canada, KBS or RNZ.

This comes after Twitter this week upped its efforts in labeling public media bodies on its site. The Public Media Alliance has analyzed 50 public service media accounts and found what it calls an “inconsistent and incoherent patchwork of labels.” For example, PBS and NPR are labeled as “Government-funded,” though neither receive money from U.S. state, as are Italy’s Rai, Spain’s RTVE and Australian diversity-focused network SBS.

Earlier this month, a huge row broke out when the BBC, which is funded by license fee payers but is editorially independent, was labeled as affiliated with government. After several objections and a BBC reporter challenging Twitter CEO Musk about the label during an impromptu interview, it was changed to read “Publicly-funded Media.”

The four networks said the “most accurate and appropriate label” Twitter has available is that same “Publicly-funded Media” one. Each network has a slightly different funding mechanism, but broadly remain editorially separate from their government. The same essentially applied to the BBC.

The ABC receives funding from government after a charter negotiation, CBC has a mix of public funding and commercial ad revenues, KBS uses a mandatory license fee and tops up with ad revs, and RNZ gets government funding and employs ads. RNZ was due to merge with TVNZ to form a new public media group, Aotearoa New Zealand Public Media, but this was scrapped in February less than a month before it was due to take place.

The Global Task Force added: “Twitter’s approach to labelling on the basis of funding misunderstands the fundamental concept of public service media: they are publicly funded organisations that are statutorily independent of government influence. This model has served audiences well in democratic countries for much of the last century.”

Deadline reached out to Twitter for comment but received the standard poo emoji response, as has been the case for months now.

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