NUJ BBC Foyle chapel express no confidence in BBC Northern Ireland senior management

  • 24 Apr 2023

The chapel has withdrawn its confidence in Rhodri Talfan Davies, Adam Smyth and Kevin Kelly.

NUJ BBC Foyle chapel said:

Following several months of intense negotiations and discussion surrounding the schedule changes at BBC Northern Ireland, members of the NUJ Foyle chapel wish to express that senior BBC managers Rhodri Talfan Davies, Adam Smyth and Kevin Kelly no longer have their confidence.

Changes to the schedule are due to come into place on 24 April, which will see the axing of the BBC Radio Foyle Breakfast Show and News At One programme to move forward on a ‘Digital First’ strategy.

The Chapel understands the need for change within the BBC and has tried to engage constructively in a process which would ensure a smooth transition to new ways of working, which would continue to serve the audience and protect NUJ members.

Unfortunately, members have expressed grave concerns in the run up to these changes which they feel have not been taken seriously.

The BBC has publicly stated that staffing levels will remain unchanged at Foyle. However, a number of our members remain formally at risk of redundancy. The NUJ has not received any written assurances from management that members of staff in Foyle are no longer at risk of losing their jobs.  

We are also concerned that valued members employed on short term contracts will not be replaced, reducing the overall headcount of talented journalists working from the Foyle newsroom.

Members have been living with the uncertainty of these decisions since late November, which has weighed heavily on their mental well-being. Throughout that time they have acted with integrity and professionalism in continuing their work as dedicated journalists.

Members in Foyle, with no assurances over their future roles in the corporation, have now been told they must prepare for a new 30-minute programme due to hit the airwaves on 24 April. Members at risk have been asked to contribute to a new programme, not knowing if they will have any role in its future. Staff will be asked to embrace the ‘digital first’ approach to a working day without any training or direction on what it will involve.

There has been little in the way of guidance from senior BBC management over what the exact remit of this new 30-minute programme will be. There has been no guidance on what additional duties will be thrust on staff to ensure they fulfil the digital strategy. There has been no training provided. Members have been given no time to prepare for a successful launch.

The chapel feels that its members, and BBC licence fee holders, have been failed by the lack of clarity, communication and thought given to this process in recent months.

Until the issues outlined can be resolved, it is with regret that we withdraw our confidence in the senior management of BBC NI.

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