UK: IFJ backs BBC journalists strike to defend local news

Members of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) in the UK and Ireland, an IFJ affiliate, working across England for BBC Local will begin a 24-hour strike action from 11AM on 15 March to protest over the BBC’s plans to cut local radio. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) fully supports the upcoming strike and joins its affiliate in calling on the management to engage with the NUJ to reach a solution in the dispute over cuts to local radio.

Credit: NUJ.

Journalists working on BBC radio, tv, and online across the UK will commence  a 24-hour strike action as part of an ongoing dispute over the BBC’s plans to cut local radio. 5.7 million listeners tune in to BBC Local radio stations each week to hear valued content relevant to their communities, but proposals by the broadcaster will cull services and mean only 40 hours of guaranteed weekly programming.

NUJ members will head to pickets on Wednesday and Thursday, following the union’s clear mandate from 83% of balloted members, who voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action.

The union has been engaged in discussions with the BBC, urging to rethink the damaging impact cuts will have on local radio. 

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.”

Over 1,000 journalists are expected to take part in the strike action throughout England, with a continuous work to rule kicking off on their return from 11am Thursday 16 March. 

The IFJ radically opposes the management's proposals to cut local radio, undermining public service broadcasting across the UK. 

Anthony Bellanger, IFJ General Secretary, said: "We radically oppose the management's proposals to cut local radio, undermining public service broadcasting across the UK. We fully support NUJ's position and call on the management to rethink the damaging impact that cuts will have on local radio and on the public's right to know". 

For more information, please contact IFJ on +32 2 235 22 16

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 146 countries

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