BBC journalists strike for the third time to save local radio

  • 18 Jul 2023

BBC journalists are out on strike again – from 11am on Thursday 20 July to 11am Friday 21 July – go along on visit them.

The walkouts will affect the coverage of three by-elections.

The placards, flags and posters will be dusted off for the third time this year for picket lines at England’s local radio stations. Despite the dispute winning huge support among the 5.4m loyal local radio listeners, MPs and councillors of all parties, a huge range of charities, non-league football fans, and community groups, the BBC is going ahead with plans to cut local content by almost half, with many popular presenters losing their jobs or choosing to go.

Many of them have taken to Twitter to say goodbye to their listeners and fans. This week BBC Radio Gloucestershire weekend presenter Faye Hatcher had prepared an emotional pre-recorded message on her Saturday programme saying she was leaving the station after 23 years, and that it had broken her heart to leave a job she was passionate about.

“The changes to local programming, I believe, will be detrimental to you, the listener. Never doubt that you have been at the heart of everything we do. We are rooted in your community - surely that’s what local radio is about? We experience what you experience, we’re here to serve and represent you. You remove these community ambassadors, and all those wonderful contacts and stories disappear, and I fear they will never come back,” she said.

Paul Siegert, NUJ national broadcasting organiser, said:

“This strike action will again have a huge impact on BBC Local output, with many stations and programmes expected to be off air. NUJ members would much rather be working in newsrooms on Thursday and Friday, but the BBC’s damaging plans for job cuts, slashing local radio and changing ways of working remain deeply unpopular. We’re asking Tim Davie to pause and rethink. We believe there are ways to protect and promote digital investment without cutting much loved and valued local radio content. With an election around the corner, holding local politicians to account is more important than ever. Let’s protect and promote BBC Local, not eviscerate it.”

The stakes are high for BBC members. Dozens are on the verge of being put at risk of compulsory redundancy, with others facing changes to their jobs and rotas. Those taking strike action work in local radio, regional TV and online in England. The journalists have also been on a work to rule as part of the dispute.

The BBC’s Digital First strategy is to move more local news online, despite many people still tuning into linear radio, especially the old, vulnerable, those who are not digitally savvy or do not have good digital connections. The NUJ believes the BBC, as a public service broadcaster, has a duty to include all licence fee payers.

Local MPs, councillors and public who support local radio have been invited to come along and say hello to the NUJ members on strike.  Details of where and when picket lines will be operating can be found on the #KeepBBCLocalRadioLocal campaign page.

Return to listing