A strike by BBC journalists has disrupted programs including the flagship Today on Radio 4. TV news was also hit by the 24-hour walkout by members of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) in protest at compulsory job reductions. Picket lines were mounted outside BBC studios and offices across the UK and the union said the strike was being well supported. The Today program was not broadcast at its usual time of 6am and Radio 4’s main daytime news programs have been forced off the air by the strike, including World at One and PM, reports The UK Guardian.
Radio 4’s flagship Today program and BBC1’s Breakfast were forced off the Instead of John Humphrys and Evan Davies on Radio 4, listeners heard pre-recorded shows, while BBC1 viewers were offered Bargain Hunt and Escape to the Country instead of Bill Turnbull.
Radio 5 Live was also affected, with Up All Night and Morning Reports cancelled, while the Breakfast show went on air at 6am with stand-in presenters.
On BBC1 this morning, half-hour news bulletins were followed by repeats of daytime shows.
NUJ picket lines are planned outside BBC offices in London, Cardiff, Glasgow and Birmingham.
Strikers outside the corporation’s London headquarters, New Broadcasting House, resisted “strongarm tactics” by unnamed “senior members of staff”, according to the union. The NUJ claimed that some BBC managers suggested to freelancers that their future work would be affected as they arrived to staff the graveyard shifts: “NUJ members across the BBC are taking action to defend jobs and quality journalism at the corporation,” said the NUJ general secretary, Michelle Stanistreet. “They are angry and frustrated at the poor decisions being taken at the top of the BBC – decisions that are leading to journalists being forced out of their jobs and quality journalism and programming compromised.”
The strike is in protest at planned compulsory cuts across the BBC, including at BBC Radio 5 Live, the Asian Network, the World Service, and BBC Scotland.
A BBC spokesman said: “We understand how frustrating and difficult situations involving redundancies can be, but it is disappointing the NUJ have chosen to take this action. We are working hard to ensure that we succeed in getting staff redeployed wherever we can and will continue to work with the unions to ensure that their members receive the right redeployment support.”
Many knew some kind of cuts were coming. Just under a year ago, we reported The BBC was told it could save millions a year by cutting 50% of senior local radio managers rather than taking the axe to programs, according to a report by former GMG Radio chief John Myers. The BBC-commissioned report published 2/27 said the corporation could save U.S. $3,168,757 a year from its local radio budget by axing half of the managing editors across its 40 local stations inEngland.
Myers said the staff organization “was a little unwieldy” with too many people with management responsibility of some description and an overly complicated structure—in other words, too many Indian chiefs.
Myers said last year the maximum amount of savings that could be made in local radio without affecting on-air quality was $14,259,408, rising to $17,428,165 if managing editors were put in charge of two local stations each.