IFJ Calls on BBC to “Come Clean” Over Deal with Canadian Broadcaster That Locked out 5,500 Staff

The International Federation of Journalists and its regional group the European Federation of Journalists today called on the BBC to “come clean” over its role in providing broadcast material to the Canadian public broadcaster CBC which is engaged in a bitter battle with unions after it locked out 5,500 workers. 

The BBC has so far refused to meet with British trade unions representing journalists and other workers to explain its role in the Canadian dispute which began on August 15 after talks with unions on a new contract broke down over the CBC demand for the unfettered right to hire contract and part-time workers to take jobs now filled by staff employees. 

When the company locked out its union staff most original programming and news in particular, ground to a halt with the radio and TV slots filled with repeats and imported content. The broadcaster relies heavily on BBC foreign news reports for television news. 

“The BBC claims not to be involved,” said Aidan White General Secretary of the EFJ and the IFJ, “but while it refuses to disclose the details of its arrangement with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the BBC will continue to be accused of strikebreaking. It’s time to come clean over what deals have been made.” 

The IFJ wrote last week to the European Broadcasting Union, which groups national, rand international public broadcasters, warning that the use of the BBC and other broadcasters, such as the English service of German network Deutsche Welle, to fill gaps in CBC programming threatens the reputation of public broadcasters. 

The IFJ is backing local unions which yesterday protested at the BBC’s refusal to meet them over the issue and has asked all its members, and in particular the National Union of Journalists in Great Britain and Ireland and affiliates in Germany, to work together with its Canadian member, the Canadian Media Guild (TNG/CWA), to prevent broadcasts from global networks being used to make up for missing local content. 

The dispute is backed by the NUJ in the UK and the IFJ’s US affiliate, the Newspaper Guild/CWA as well as the Canadian actors’ union ACTRA, which have instructed members to do nothing that would undermine the CBC staff position. 

“This dispute can only be solved through negotiations on the spot. The role of the BBC could make matters worse,” said White. “We hope that the BBC will explain its position to UK unions and will not put its reputation for impartiality at risk.” 

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The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries