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Journalists to vote on industrial action over BBC local news cuts

nujlogoJournalists will vote on possible industrial action over planned BBC local news cuts, union bosses have confirmed.

National Union of Journalists members working for BBC England are being balloted over potential action following the corporation’s proposals to share local radio programming across its 39-station-strong network.

Under the BBC’s original proposals, its English local radio stations would share programmes with neighbouring stations after 2pm on weekdays and at weekends, while some news bulletins would also be pre-recorded.

The plans, revealed in October, will result in a loss of posts and journalists having to re-apply for their own jobs.

At the time, the BBC announced the proposed loss of 139 radio roles and a concurrent investment in local digital journalism to create 131 new jobs.

A compromise put forward by the BBC which would have seen less content sharing was rejected by 70pc of NUJ members, according to the union. Any action, if voted for, would commence in March.

NUJ national broadcasting organiser Paul Siegert, pictured, said: “There is real anger about the BBC’s plans for local radio which will result in 5.7 million people getting a much-reduced service.

“It will completely undermine the BBC’s public service remit and take the ‘local’ out of local radio.

“We expect there to be an overwhelming vote for action. The union has made it plain that it supports the BBC’s expansion of digital, but believes it can be done without destroying local radio.”

In a separate dispute, the NUJ says BBC members in Northern Ireland have voted 95pc in favour of industrial action over the corporation’s proposal to close 36 posts across the province and end the popular BBC Radio Foyle Breakfast Show.

A BBC spokesperson said: “Our goal over the next 12 months is to modernise our BBC Local services in England to strengthen our online provision for communities across the country.

“We have listened carefully to the feedback we have received about proposed changes to BBC Local Radio programming.

“As a result, we are making a number of amendments to the original plan in order to strike the best possible balance between live and on-demand services.”