BBC journalists strike: 24-hour industrial action in England announced for May over local radio cuts

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National Union of Journalists said BBC journalists in England will go on strike the same day local election results are announced.

BBC journalists in England have announced a second 24-hour strike to begin at midnight on May 5 - coinciding with the reporting of local election results. The industrial action is planned over cuts to local radio.

According to the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), management at the broadcaster wants local radio stations to share programming across the network beginning at 2pm on weekdays and on weekends. This would reduce the amount of locally produced content on each station from more than 100 hours per week to 40.

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The plan, said the NUJ, would potentially “kill off local radio” and will result in job losses with journalists forced to reapply for their positions. The BBC, in response, said it planned to modernise local services and said there would be no overall reduction in staffing levels or local funding.

This will be the NUJ’s second strike, following a strike on Budget Day on March 15. The union has sought the services of Acas arbitration service to see whether it might assist in resolving the disagreement.

Paul Siegert, the NUJ’s national broadcasting organiser, said: “Video didn’t kill off radio and nor will digital. We understand that digital services need to be improved but it shouldn’t come at the expense of local radio, which is at the heart of the BBC’s public service remit.

“To go from over 100 hours a week of local programming on every radio station down to just 40 is unacceptable. People want local, relevant news that is accessible, and NUJ members are prepared to stand up and fight for that. Once local radio stops being local then it is the beginning of the end and BBC bosses don’t have the right to destroy an institution that has existed for over 50 years.”

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A BBC spokesperson told the Guardian: “We’re disappointed that the industrial action is taking place. We have a plan to modernise 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.

“Our goal is a local service across TV, radio and online that delivers even greater value to communities. We will continue to engage with the trade union and do everything possible to minimise the impact on staff.”

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