BBC sports coverage disrupted for second day over Gary Lineker's suspension
Regular sport programmes that were due to be on-air have been replaced with previously aired episodes and some fixtures are to be telecast without the regular supporting expert commentary
The BBC's sports coverage faced a second day of disruption on Sunday as several members of its staff refused to work in solidarity with star football host Gary Lineker, who was taken off air over a tweet criticising the British government's migration policy.
In a post on Tuesday on his Twitter account that has 8.7 million followers, 62-year-old Lineker a former England football captain and now one of the UK's most influential media figures compared Rishi Sunak government's language about migrants to that used in Nazi Germany.
He has not tweeted or commented since the row erupted but the broadcaster's decision to block him from its flagship "Match of the Day" football show triggered mass walkouts by staff in solidarity.
Regular sport programmes that were due to be on-air have been replaced with previously aired episodes and some fixtures are to be telecast without the regular supporting expert commentary.
Tim Davie, the BBC's director-general, apologised for the disruption and exuded hope that Lineker would be back on air soon.
"We are working very hard to resolve this situation and make sure we get output on air," Davie told the BBC.
"I am in listening mode. I want to make sure that going forward we have a workable solution. To be clear, success for me is: Gary gets back on air," he said.
There is mounting pressure on the top team to resolve the crisis after the BBC, which operates through a taxpayer-funded licence fee, said it considered Lineker posting such views on social media as a breach of its impartiality guidelines.
UK Chancellor Jeremy Hunt told Sky News that he "profoundly" disagrees with Lineker's comments, but stopped short of demanding an apology.
"If you believe in BBC independence, then it's not for the Chancellor or any other government minister to say how these issues are resolved," said Hunt.
"The central thing that people want to know is that there isn't any kind of political agenda in the way the BBC goes about its business, which I'm not saying there is, but that is the confidence people need to have," he added.
The Conservative government attacked Lineker's Nazi comparison of a planned illegal migrant crackdown as unacceptable, with UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman among the ministers who branded it "offensive".
"I think it is, from a personal point of view, to hear that characterisation is offensive because my husband is Jewish, my children are therefore direct descendants from people who were murdered in gas chambers during the Holocaust," Braverman told the BBC in the wake of the row earlier this week.
"To kind of throw out those kind of flippant analogies diminishes the unspeakable tragedy that millions of people went through and I don't think anything that is happening in the UK today can come close to what happened in the Holocaust. So, I find it a lazy and unhelpful comparison to make," she said.
This is the latest controversy over the role of the 100-year-old BBC after the broadcaster's neutrality came under recent scrutiny over revelations that its chairman, Richard Sharp a donor for the governing Conservative Party was involved in the arrangement of a loan for the then Prime Minister Boris Johnson in 2021, weeks before he was appointed to the BBC post on the government's recommendation.