BBC Local strike impact and support

  • 08 Jun 2023

Strike action by NUJ BBC Local members on Wednesday 7 and Thursday 8 June had significant impact on programming, with some BBC local radio stations and programmes completely off air and many others taking a shared ‘sustaining’ service containing no local content, or replacing shows with cricket, gardening or auction room re-runs.

Picket line with placards outside BBC Sheffield with large group smiling

NUJ picket line outside BBC Sheffield

Some of the impact is given below. See further below for support from across the political spectrum and beyond.

For breakfast radio, BBC chose Lancashire as the location for all-England output, known as a ‘network show’ or ‘sustaining service’. 

Twelve breakfast shows were taken off air and replaced with this sustaining service from radio Lancashire which had no local content, including: 

  • Nottingham 
  • Derby 
  • Cumbria 
  • Merseyside 
  • Manchester 
  • Leeds 
  • Humberside 
  • York 
  • Shropshire 
  • Solent 
  • Cornwall 
  • Hereford and Worcester 

These and some other stations were forced to take news bulletins from BBC Radio 2. 

Hereford and Worcester completely off air and took a shared service for the full 48 hours of the strike action.  

Breakfast TV – BBC Breakfast presenter, Charlie Stayt, said to viewers “now it’s time for the news where you are, which may be affected by industrial action”. Viewers in the south were among several regions who had a sustaining service from the BBC in Salford containing news about Manchester, Cumbria and Teesside. 

In Hull – no BBC radio or TV output has come from the BBC building in Hull at all. In addition to the sustaining service coverage, on Thursday there were no online stories posted on BBC Humberside for 9 hours from 6:30am, with other stories coming from generic items, such as weather reports of predicted high temperatures at the weekend. 

Online services for BBC local coverage have been severely impacted. 

BBC Midlands Today was off air Wednesday lunchtime and evening. 

There were no local news bulletins on radio Wednesday or Thursday on BBC West Midlands, and they carried an announcement that just said: ‘we can’t bring you normal programmes because of industrial action’. Mid-morning show took a national feed and afternoon show had a stand in presenter taking national news bulletins. The early evening usual show was replaced with live cricket commentary. 

Local news goes under the hammer  

Many lunchtime and 6:30 TV bulletins were ousted and replaced with other programmes. A number of regional TV news bulletins at 6:30 were replaced with a repeat of The Bidding Room on Thursday, with a Charlie Dimmock gardening programme filling the gaps on Wednesday. Local news replaced by auction room scenes. 

BBC radio London breakfast show was presented by stand-in presenters and the lunchtime, afternoon and evening programmes took the sustaining service being provided centrally with no local content.

BBC London TV was a shared London and southeast programme broadcast from Tunbridge Wells using freelance presenters. The Wednesday evening 22:25 TV news was pre-recorded, missing out on the biggest story of the night – West Ham winning the Europa Conference League final. 

BBC Director General Tim Davie was accosted by BBC London members on the picket line at New Broadcasting House on both Wednesday and Thursday.


NUJ picket line at Media City Salford with Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham

Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham on the NUJ Media City picket line in Salford

Support flooded in for striking NUJ members and the BBC Local services they are campaigning to protect.

Scores of politicians turned up to the NUJ’s lobby of parliament in support of BBC Local, with many making public messages of support on their social media accounts. 

Twenty-six Yorkshire MPs signed a joint letter to Tim Davie. 

Cross party Humberside MPs met Tim Davie.

Thirteen West Midlands MPs have written to Tim Davie expressing concern over the cuts. 

London Mayor Sadiq Khan Tweeted his support

Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham turned up at the NUJ picket line in Media City, Salford.

Liverpool City Region Mayor Steve Rotheram attended the BBC Merseyside picket lines and recorded video messages of solidarity.

Paul Nowak, TUC general secretary, sent solidarity messages.

Labour council leaders wrote a joint letter.

IFJ sent a solidarity statement.

Journalist Kevin Maguire Tweeted solidarity.

Liam Robinson leader of Liverpool council did a video on the BBC Merseyside picket line.

Chris Green MP for Bolton West was on the BBC Manchester picket line.

Lloyd Russell-Moyle MP for Brighton Kemptown was at BBC Sussex picket line. 

Ian Byrne MP for Liverpool West Derby was at the BBC Merseyside picket line. 

Richard Ford MP for Tiverton and Honiton has written to Tim Davie.

Broadcaster and former presenter Jane Garvey gave support to the BBC London picket line.

There were many more - send what we've missed to [email protected] 

NUJ picket line at BBC Gloucestershire people with placards

NUJ picket line at BBC Gloucestershire


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