The BBC has backtracked over its cruel job cuts to local radio in the face of crippling strikes. This afternoon (27 April) the company sent an email to its staff confirming that it has agreed to halt issuing new notices to local radio staff, at least for several months.
Express.co.uk understands that over the last several weeks all BBC Local Radio journalists have been made to reapply for their own roles, involving 60-second interviews in what have been described as “speed dates” by bosses.
The process has already resulted in a number of local radio heavyweights being laid off from their jobs after failing reselection, sparking a massive backlash among fans and other journalists.
The National Union of Journalists had planned strike action for 5 March across the UK over cuts to BBC Local Radio, which is predicted to decimate local radio.
Staff will now get to choose in a ballot whether they are willing to accept the revised proposal and end the dispute.
The strikes, which have now been called off until the ballot result is in, would have brought the company’s local election coverage to its knees.
The BBC email seen by Express.co.uk stated that it “would not issue contractual notice of redundancy to any Local Radio Presenters who have engaged in the Presenter/Producer recruitment process before August 30th so they are able to explore redeployment/training and opportunities.”
It added: “Presenters who were unsuccessful in the initial selection process would be given first opportunity to apply for the remaining presenter/producer vacancies.”
According to an NUJ email to BBC Local reporters, seen by Express.co.uk, no more people will leave through compulsory redundancy before November 30th 2023 if the workers agree to the proposals.
“A new selection process will be developed in consultation with the NUJ, different to the first process,” it added.
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The email also said: “A new selection process will be developed in consultation with the NUJ, different to the first process.
The new process is tipped to include a panel member from outside of BBC Local and support will be on offer to help employees through the new process.
The BBC is currently trying to transform its local radio stations to prioritise digital content, such as podcasts and streaming.
As part of shrinking the output of unique local radio, the BBC plans to make 39 local stations share more shows.
BBC management wants local radio stations to share programmes across the network from 2pm on weekdays and at weekends.
One of the local shows that was brought to an end this week was The Burnsy Show at BBC Humberside, run by local radio heavyweight David Burns.
Mr Burns tweeted: “The BBC has told me I won’t be needed as a presenter.”
“I’m eternally grateful to them for the opportunity, I’ve loved every minute, though the last few months have been unnecessarily painful.”
“I think I made a difference and I couldn’t have done it without you as an audience.”
A BBC spokesperson told Express.co.uk: “Many of our presenters will continue to present on local radio at the end of this process in new presenter/producer roles but we appreciate change like this is really difficult and we are supporting our teams closely through this.
“Our aim is to achieve a better balance between our local online and broadcast services at a time when millions of people increasingly turn to their mobile first for news and information.”
“The changes see no reduction in funding or overall staffing levels across our 39 local bases in England.”
“We have followed our usual recruitment policies for interviewing candidates for the new presenter/producer roles across local radio.”
“We appreciate that entering a process like this can be difficult for those involved, but we would hope if a member of staff had any concerns they would be raised internally so they could be dealt with appropriately.”
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