BBC Radio York staff strike to save local programmes

Producers, presenters and newsreaders at BBC Radio York took to the picket line outside the station as part of a national strike against programme cuts.

Dozens surrounded the building on Bootham Row to voice their concerns over the BBC’s plans to cut local output.

They joined 38 other stations in the UK, who fear the decision to merge multiple station’s afternoon, weekday evening and weekend shows will negatively impact their listeners.

A representative for the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) at Radio York, Richard Staples, explained that the group was striking for their listeners. Some of them have no access to the internet and will not be able to take advantage of more digital content, planned under the BBC shake-up.

He said: “We don’t strike easily. This is the first one we’ve done in ten years.

“To get people out like this and to support people, union members and non-union members is quite a big thing.

“This is being followed by a work to rule and we’re going to carry on with that, keeping the pressure on, just to demonstrate that we in York, do not want this to go ahead.”

Asked if he is optimistic that future change will occur within the BBC, Richard added: “I think there will be some movement after this. I don’t know how much though.”

Staff members began their strike at 11am. Photograph: Abby Backhouse.
Some of BBC Radio York’s staff and NUJ members admit they will resort to a ‘work to rule’ if changes are not made to the BBC’s plans. Photograph: Abby Backhouse.

The BBC plans to merge Radio York’s afternoon and weekend shows with the stations in Leeds, Sheffield and the Humberside. It has said that this move will allow staff to focus their efforts on social media content.

Richard said: “This has upset some of our older listeners.

“We have had a few concerned phone-ins from those who live alone, cannot access the internet and greatly value our shows to ease their loneliness.

“It would be a real shame to let these people down.”

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