BBC Northern Ireland journalists take to picket lines as council votes counted

Bbc Northern Ireland Journalists Take To Picket Lines As Council Votes Counted
Several flagship radio shows, including Good Morning Ulster and the Nolan Show, were off-air amid the strike. Photo: PA Images
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Rebecca Black, PA

BBC Northern Ireland journalists are on the picket lines as votes are counted across the region following the local elections.

The 24-hour strike saw several flagship programmes, including BBC Radio Ulster’s Good Morning Ulster and The Nolan Show, go off-air as more than 200 journalists took part in the walkout.


There were also no local news bulletins on Radio Ulster until 9am on Friday, which was read by Adam Smyth, director of BBC Northern Ireland.

Television and online services have been similarly impacted.

Comprehensive coverage of the local elections had been planned, including a live feed with the latest results on social media accounts, and BBC Radio Ulster’s live results programme to be streamed on the BBC News NI website.


A team of reporters had been planned across the 11 count centres with on-air coverage on BBC Radio Ulster from 4pm on Friday, as well as live coverage of results on the BBC One Northern Ireland television channel.

Election coverage is due to resume on Saturday following the strike action, which began at 12.15am on Friday.

It was called to oppose cutbacks to Radio Foyle’s morning show, as well as the restructuring of services in Northern Ireland, which includes reallocation of funds to digital services.

Radio Foyle’s flagship morning show was axed last month and replaced with a half-hour news programme.


Seamus Dooley, assistant general secretary for the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) visited the picket line at the BBC base in Belfast on Friday morning.



“Our members across the BBC in Northern Ireland are on strike today, and they’re on strike when they should be covering the election results.

“That’s not something journalists like to do. Election day is Christmas for political junkies, and we also have a responsibility to bring the news to the community across Northern Ireland,” he said.

“It’s a measure of how seriously our members take threats to funding in the BBC and our concern at the diminution of local news that we are on strike when we should be reporting the news, rather than making the news.”

Mr Dooley said it was unfortunate that industrial action cannot be taken without having an impact on the public.

“But in a way what this illustrates is the importance of well-resourced independent public service broadcasting, and we believe that the BBC plans across the UK undermine community-based public service broadcasting,” he said.

“We have full sympathy for the public, but we know from the reaction that we are getting that the public understand that some of the plans for the BBC would undermine the very essence of public service broadcasting.

“We understand the importance of digital development but when they talk about a digital first strategy, we think that’s wrong. We’re saying it’s journalism first, public service journalism accessible to all.”

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