NUJ strikes take BBC radio and TV off air

  • 07 Jun 2023

BBC local radio and television news bulletins were missing across England today as the NUJ’s BBC Local 48-hour strike kicked into gear with widespread impact on programming across the 39 radio stations, 11 regional TV news programmes and online services involved.

Local radio listeners switched stations when they realised their usual presenters were off air, with many taking to social media to decry the loss of their beloved local breakfast shows – something which forms a core part of the dispute. NUJ members in BBC Local are taking 48 hours strike action in protest at cuts to programming and jobs which will mean shared content replacing local output.

NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet paid tribute to striking NUJ members, saying: “BBC bosses cannot ignore the impact and strength of feeling of today’s action. The sheer volume of members out on picket lines and the undeniable disruption this action is causing is an opportunity for management to re-think the damaging cuts to BBC Local. I look forward to our lobby of parliament later today where we expect to see support from across the House.”

Picket line with placards outside BBC Leeds with large group smiling

Picket line outside BBC Leeds

© Provided by striking NUJ members. No copyright

Off air
Strike action today has had significant impact on programming, with some BBC local radio stations and programmes completely off air. For example, Hereford and Worcester are completely off air and are taking a shared service for the full 48 hours of the strike action. There was no breakfast show on radio Nottingham, radio Shropshire and several others. BBC Radio Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Lancashire, York, Hereford and Worcester, Shrewsbury, Lincolnshire, Humberside, Gloucestershire were all covered by a local bulletin for the breakfast show. Online services for BBC local coverage have been severely impacted.

BBC Midlands Today was off air at lunchtime and - along with many other local BBC tv programmes – is expected to be off air tonight. There are no local news bulletins on radio today or tomorrow on BBC West Midlands, and this afternoon they carried an announcement that just said: ‘we can’t bring you normal programmes because of industrial action’. Many lunchtime and 6:30 TV bulletins have been ousted and replaced with other programmes. BBC radio London breakfast show was presented by stand-in presenters and the lunchtime programme was a shared London and southeast programme broadcast from Tunbridge Wells.

NUJ national broadcasting organiser, Paul Siegert, said: “The turnout today shows just how strongly NUJ members feel about this dispute. They believe passionately in local radio and know if the current plans are allowed to go ahead it will lead to its demise. Local radio has existed for over 50 years and should be at the heart of public service broadcasting and be at the heart of what the BBC stands for. The reason it has 5.7 million listeners a week is because its local. Local journalists, covering local news and events.  BBC bosses should not be allowed to destroy that.”

Vibrant picket lines popped up across the country, featuring placards, babies, dogs and even pasties. A mixture of BBC journalists, producers and presenters took to the pickets to hands leaflets to other staff and members of the public, with many listeners taking the opportunity to come down to picket lines to meet their favourite presenters and show their support for the strike action. Messages of support came in from across the political spectrum too, with politicians of all colours announcing support for BBC local radio ahead of an NUJ lobby of parliament later this afternoon.

Large NUJ picket line at BBS Newcastle with placards


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