BBC Radio Sheffield journalists take part in 24 hour strike

Journalists at BBC Radio Sheffield have joined in with a 24-hour strike in response to proposed local radio cuts.

The proposals include local radio stations sharing programming after 2pm on weekends and weekdays which the National Union of Journalists say will lead to job losses as well as staff having to reapply for their own jobs.

Julia Armstrong, chair of the NUJ’s South Yorkshire Branch highlighted the impact the cuts would have on local democracy due to less coverage of events, for example the recent coverage of the Sheffield street trees inquiry.

The BBC has said the proposals would see “no overall reduction in staffing levels or local funding” and deliver “even greater value to communities”.

The corporation however previously revealed it expected 48 jobs would be lost with the cuts.

Ms Armstrong said claims of no job losses were ‘simply untrue’ with redundancies in the offing and she revealed that some journalists had already said their jobs were at risk.

The union believes that proposals revealed in October by the BBC will “kill off” local radio. 

Paul Siegert, NUJ national broadcasting officer said: “This is the biggest threat facing local radio since it launched in 1967. The key to its success over the past 50 years has been its localness.

“If these proposals are allowed to go ahead it will be the beginning of the end for local radio.”

The BBC has said the plans will “provide greater value to all local audiences by strengthening our online services for communities across England” and that in order to achieve this they would need to “reprioritise some investment from our local broadcast services into online”.

The broadcaster has described the proposals as their way of ‘modernising BBC local services’ and that they remain a priority.

Members walked out at 11am on 15 March and this will lead to reduced programming on air across the 24 hours while the 1.30, 6.30 and 10.30pm regional BBC TV news programmes are not expected to air.

Previously, the NUJ rejected an offer from the BBC which would have seen less sharing than the original proposal, with a vote resulting in 70% rejecting it.

The NUJ has said it expects about 1,000 members across England to go on strike and will continue with further action if no progress is made.

Written by Sebastian Alston

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