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ITV & BBC journalists gear up for action over pay and conditions

10 October 2012

NUJ members at the BBC and ITV are preparing to take action before Christmas over cuts to broadcasting jobs and threats to terms and conditions.

Sue Harris, NUJ Broadcasting officer, said in her speech to delegates at the NUJ's Delegate Meeting in Newcastle:

"Mark Thompson, the former director general, may be gone, but we have been left with the legacy of his eight years: year on year of thousands of job losses and more on the horizon. He has singularly failed to do his job and protect our national heritage, the BBC."

She said the BBC's Delivering Quality First, a 5-year programme to cut the corporation's budget by 20 per cent should be called Destroying Quality First. She said: "His deal to freeze the licence fee when all other prices and utilities were going up has led to a situation where the BBC is being broken apart by the cuts imposed."

Adam Bowen, BBC London branch, said:

"In recent years the corporation has shown itself to be self-serving and short-sighted in the way it has managed its finances. Now it should take responsibility for its financial failures rather than make members of the staff pay."

He said that as all employees face an appraisal, which automatically fails a quarter of them, he would do his own on the BBC management. He said he awarded it a D for damaging quality and a D for the demoralisation it had caused among staff.

David Campanale, BBC London branch and national executive, said that, while he wished George Entwistle, the new director general well, he was concerned about a shift in emphasis on finding the 20 per cents by making staff bear the brunt of efficiencies.

Pierre Vicary, chair of the NUJ Broadcasting Industrial Council said that, despite being a BBC man he was speaking to support his colleagues at ITV in a motion opposing cuts to regional newsrooms "which are already overstretched and under resourced".  He said:

"In 2003, the amount of money sent on regional commercial news at ITV was 120million, it is now £60million – with cuts to come."

These cuts are happening, he said, while ITV made a profit of £167million. "The reason?," he said, "Pure greed, with the money going to shareholders and executives as rank and file journalists have to do more with less."

Sue Harris said that the situation at the BBC and ITV has led to the union's national executive giving the go-ahead to prepare for action, if required, to protect jobs and preserve terms and conditions. She said new terms and conditions at the BBC and ITV aimed at new starters were a Trojan horse to impose them on all staff.

Séamus Dooley, NUJ Irish secretary, said that he was spending a great deal of the union's time with members at RTÉ, Ireland's national television and radio broadcaster, because of the management's ineptness.  He said:

"Despite the NUJ taking a stand, RTÉ went ahead and closed its London office. This is a major mistake and they will come to regret it as it will be impossible for them to provide a comprehensive service covering London and the rest of the UK from Dublin."

Tags: , broadcasting, BBC, ITV, cuts, delivering quality first, rté, television, radio