NUJ members employed in television, online, and radio roles at BBC Local are commenced a 24-hour strike yesterday at 11am, to protest against the broadcaster’s proposed severe cuts to local radio services.
The union is opposing the plans, which they believe will effectively eliminate local radio. The original proposals from the BBC called for the sharing of programs between stations after 2 pm on weekdays and weekends, resulting in job losses and journalists having to re-apply for their positions.
A compromise proposal by the BBC, which involved less sharing, was rejected by 70% of NUJ members. The union carried out a formal industrial action ballot of BBC Local members in England who work in local radio, TV, and online roles.
Of those who voted, 83% were in favour of strike action, and 92% favoured action that falls short of a strike. The voter turnout was 69%.
Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said:
“Staff are striking this week as a last resort – they are under no illusion that the BBC’s plans will undermine already hollowed out local radio content across England. It’s not simply a question about jobs and conditions for our members – they believe passionately in the value that quality local content brings to their audiences, journalism that is trusted and relied upon in the communities they serve. The BBC’s raiding of local radio budgets to fund its Digital First strategy is wrongheaded and risks undermining a vital part of our public service broadcasting. People want local relevant news that is accessible, and that should remain a core part of the breadth of BBC output.”
Paul Siegert, NUJ national broadcasting officer, said:
“Plans by the BBC to cut local radio services will have a lasting impact on journalists and listeners who rely on services each week for the breadth of programmes produced. This is the biggest shake-up for several decades and runs contrary to the BBC’s own claims of valuing local services. Members on strike this week want the BBC to present a solution that can resolve this dispute and prevent widespread cuts.”