Saturday, October 13, 2007

Bad moods at the BBC

I got to see for myself the anger there is at the BBC about the cuts likely to be announced next week when I attended the NUJ's BBC London Branch

Journalists working for radio news had just been told their newsroom would be abolished in the changes - they are expecting cuts of around 50% there. Elsewhere the concerns about quality and workloads surfaced amongst everyone. The management are apparently oblivious of the damage they will do. There were plenty of snide comments about Mark Thompson's trip to a lavish cocktail party in India just before he announces big job losses and Sir Michael Lyons' comments about the dissent shown by senior BBC journalists.

If you want a sense of the mood - there were more questions about the timetable and law for action than anything else. The reality is it's only a matter of time before there are more strikes if the BBC press ahead with cuts which damage quality and place unrealistic workload demands on already overworked staff.

Prior to the BBC London meeting I was in the Commons briefing the people who administer the union's Parliamentary Group on the situation at the BBC, ITV and The Guardian and planning our activity. We've already got Early Day Motions down on both topics and are tabling questions. I also delivered 650-plus letters - one to each MP - urging them to act to help stop the axing of services at ITV.

Earlier in the day I represented the NUJ at the Federation of Entertainment Unions which brings together all the TUC-affiliated unions in the media and entertainment sector. Among the issues on our agenda were freelance rights/employment status, the proposed cuts in ITV News and our save itv news campaign, the cultural aspects of the 2012 Olympics and a joint unions bid for funding from the London Development Agency towards a project to promote more opportunities for Black and minority ethnic journalists and production staff.

Now it's a weekend of catching up with hundreds of emails (sorry if you're one of the people I haven't been able to get back to!) and writing a couple of articles in preparation for next week's BBC announcements.

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