(Updated) Regional news programmes on BBC One in England have been cancelled today as a result of industrial action, called in protest to plans to cut BBC Local Radio services.
Planet Earth Live replaces the lunchtime regional news, while a shortened edition of Garden Rescue will be shown at 6:30pm in most English regions, replacing local programmes including Look North, Points West and Midlands Today.
But some regional bulletins are still being broadcast: BBC South West was able to continue broadcasting Spotlight. East Midlands Today was on air in the evening.
BBC Local Radio services will also be subject to disruption until 11:00am on Thursday, when the strike ends.
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are unaffected.
Journalists in radio, TV and online commenced action as part of an ongoing dispute over the BBC’s plans to cut local radio. 5.7 million listeners tune in to BBC Local radio stations each week to hear valued content relevant to their communities, but proposals by the broadcaster will cull services and mean only 40 hours of guaranteed weekly programming.
The union has been engaged in discussions with the BBC, urging a rethink on the damaging impact cuts will have on local radio.
Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said:
“Staff are striking this week as a last resort – they are under no illusion that the BBC’s plans will undermine already hollowed out local radio content across England. It’s not simply a question about jobs and conditions for our members – they believe passionately in the value that quality local content brings to their audiences, journalism that is trusted and relied upon in the communities they serve. The BBC’s raiding of local radio budgets to fund its Digital First strategy is wrongheaded and risks undermining a vital part of our public service broadcasting. People want local relevant news that is accessible, and that should remain a core part of the breadth of BBC output.”
But BBC management dug in this morning, defending proposals, arguing that there are changes to how audiences consume media. The BBC’s Jason Horton claimed:
This is a transformation programme not a savings plan. That means we’re not cutting our spend – instead, we plan to move about 10% of our funding towards strengthening our local online services and the impact of our storytelling.
However, back in December, BBC Director of Nations, Rhodri Talfan Davies told the Common’s DCMS select committee that £11 million was being cut from BBC England’s budget.
The latest action comes days after BBC Sport programmes were disrupted following Gary Lineker’s suspension.
updated 22:51 15/03/2023