BBC’s Naga Munchetty sparks fresh impartiality row after moonlighting on corporate video for Aston Martin on side of her ‘£195,000’ presenting role
- Munchetty, 45, faces a ‘conflict of interest’ and puts the BBC’s impartiality at risk
- The video plays up how Aston Martin is ‘assisting employees’ amid coronavirus
- But the carmaker is cutting 500 jobs as the broadcaster offers redundancies
Naga Munchetty has been scolded by BBC bosses after appearing in a paid corporate video for car maker Aston Martin.
The BBC Breakfast presenter, who earns up to £195,000 per year, hosted a webinar video for the luxury carmaker without gaining approval from her employer or declaring her fee, sources have told i.
The video played up how Aston Martin was ‘engaging and assisting employees’ during the coronavirus crisis despite the company’s plans to cut 500 jobs – a fifth of its workforce.
Naga Munchetty (pictured) is in hot water after appearing in the corporate promo video for Aston Martin, with BBC bosses saying she may have once more put the broadcaster’s impartiality at risk. Sources claim Munchetty did not disclose how much she was paid for the PR work, in which she asks an Aston Martin VP how the company is protecting its employees amid mass redundancies
The title screenshot of the Aston Martin corporate video Naga Munchetty took part in. During the video, Freedman says the company initially put 75% of its staff on furlough to protect the company’s bottom line: ‘There was uncertainty for us when we were having to make those decisions’
Its chief executive Andy Palmer was fired after the company’s share price plummeted and falling sales lead to a £227m loss.
BBC bosses have told Munchetty that she risked a ‘conflict of interest’ and potentially jeopardised the BBC’s impartiality, since she could be asked to discuss Aston Martin’s financial troubles on air.
Racism row: BBC overturned complaint over Trump tweet
Last year Munchetty was found to have breached the BBC’s impartiality guidelines after she condemned US President Donald Trump for telling some female politicians to ‘go back’ to where they came from.
She provoked outrage when she responded: ‘Every time I have been told, as a woman of colour, to go back to where I came from, that was embedded in racism. I’m not accusing anyone of anything here, but you know what certain phrases mean.’
The BBC’s Executive Complaints Unit (ECU) had originally ruled that Munchetty had breached editorial guidelines.
In partially upholding the complaint, the BBC was itself accused of racism, with broadcasters Sir Lenny Henry and Krishnan Guru-Murthy among others launching a campaign for the BBC to reverse its decision.
BBC Director-General Lord Hall then overturned the decision, telling staff that ‘racism is not an opinion’.
In the webinar, titled ‘Road To Resilience: How Aston Martin is protecting and engaging their employees and customers’, Munchetty asks Aston Martin’s vice president and chief marketing officer Peter Freedman how the car maker has ‘reacted to this challenging and rapidly changing landscape by protecting and engaging their employees, communities and customers’.
Freedman explained the company had, at one point, placed 75% of its staff on furlough.
Naga Munchetty arrives at MediaCityUK in Salford to host BBC Breakfast after she became the centre of a row over her criticism of Donald Trump. The US president made racist remarks about four female US politicians of colour, telling them to ‘go back’ home. Munchetty told Vogue that ‘every time I have been told, as a woman of colour, to go back to where I came from, that was embedded in racism’
Munchetty asked: ‘What reassurances do they have now when it comes to their future… with Aston Martin?’
Freedman answered: ‘We wanted to give confidence to people that we’re furloughing them because there’s a lot of uncertainty, we need to protect ourselves as a business and ultimately we needed to ensure our costs were at a manageable stage, because nobody at that point knew when those restrictions were going to lift.
‘There was uncertainty for us when we were having to make those decisions.’
Naga Munchetty’s other scandals and controversies
July 2020: Munchetty was blasted by Twitter uses over her six-figure salary after saying that it was ‘worth it’. ‘We’re there to provide a service and make sure people are informed, educated and entertained. I think a licence is worth that,’ she said.
June 2020: Munchetty said broadcasters were not ‘robots’ and should do more than ‘blankly’ read the news. Her comments followed furore over the actions of fellow BBC presented Emily Maitlis who was accused of violating the BBC’s impartiality guidelines after she delivered a highly critical monologue about the Dominic Cummings lockdown controversy during an episode of Newsnight.
October 2019: Munchetty received more than 300 viewer complaints after grilling rapper Professor Green and Tory MP James Cleverly on Breakfast. Audiences were unhappy about her putting the screws to Cleverly and that she mocked Professor Green as he tried his hand at weather presenting.
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