BBC strike action

Local BBC staff are expected to go on strike for a second time over job and program cuts

Staff at local BBC radio stations are expected to go on strike for a second time over cuts in broadcast schedules, the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) has announced.

The strike is scheduled to take place on Friday May 5 to coincide with the results of local elections.

Journalists say they are concerned about projected job losses triggered by content-sharing channels.

The plan is to network further radio programs via several stations on weekdays and at weekends from 2:00 p.m.

This would mean that the BBC would produce 20 afternoon programs across England and 10 evening programmes.

This is part of the BBC’s strategy to create more digital jobs in local regions to enhance online and social media output outside of the broadcaster’s larger regional or national bases.

The BBC dismissed an initial claim by the NUJ that the plans mean more than 100 hours a week of local programming on each radio station could be reduced to 40 – pointing out the calculation did not take into account the hours of sports programming that this would mean do would be held up individually at each station.

A BBC spokesman said: “We are protecting all live local editions from 6pm to 2pm weekdays, as well as all weekday sports programming on each channel. In addition, some of our larger stations will keep their own special local programs in the afternoon of the week.

“Even if we propose to share some local programming between neighboring broadcasters in the afternoon, we will still be producing 20 different local programs across England.”

The NUJ later withdrew its call for a 40-hour minimum, but said the cuts still resulted in local production being halved in much of England.

BBC staff are being asked to re-apply for jobs – with 48 jobs to be axed.

Paul Siegert, NUJ national broadcaster, said: “Video has not eradicated radio, nor is it going digital.

“We understand that digital services need to be improved, but this should not come at the expense of local radio, which is at the heart of the BBC’s public service remit.”

A first strike took place on March 15, coinciding with the Chancellor’s budget announcement.

This led to the cancellation of several regional television news programs and was described by the NUJ as having a “significant impact”.

A BBC spokesman said: “We are disappointed that the industrial action is taking place.

“We have a plan to modernize local services across England – including more news journalists and a stronger local online service – which will see no overall reduction in staffing levels or local funding.

The statement concluded, “Our goal is local service across TV, radio and online that brings even greater value to communities.

“We will continue to work with the union and do everything we can to minimize the impact on employees.”

CLARIFICATION: This story was updated on April 1st when the BBC challenged a claim by the NUJ for the number of hours of local programming and the NUJ accepted the BBC’s figures.


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